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Neutronic and Logistic Proposal for Transmutation of Plutonium from Spent Nuclear Fuel as Mixed-Oxide Fuel in Existing Light Water Reactors

Holly R. Trellue

Nuclear Technology / Volume 147 / Number 2 / August 2004 / Pages 171-180

Technical Paper / Fuel Cycle and Management

The use of light water reactors (LWRs) for the destruction of plutonium and other actinides [especially those in spent nuclear fuel (SNF)] is being examined worldwide. One possibility for transmutation of this material is the use of mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, which is a combination of uranium and plutonium oxides. MOX fuel is used in nuclear reactors worldwide, so a large experience base for its use already exists. However, to limit implementation of SNF transmutation to only a fraction of the LWRs in the United States with a reasonable number of license extensions, full cores of MOX fuel probably are required. This paper addresses the logistics associated with using LWRs for this mission and the design issues required for full cores of MOX fuel. Given limited design modifications, this paper shows that neutronic safety conditions can be met for full cores of MOX fuel with up to 8.3 wt% of plutonium.

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