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Feasibility of Burning First- and Second-Generation Plutonium in Pebble Bed High-Temperature Reactors

J. B. M. De Haas, J. C. Kuijper

Nuclear Technology / Volume 151 / Number 2 / August 2005 / Pages 192-200

Technical Paper / Advances in Nuclear Fuel Management - Fuel Management of Reactors Other Than Light Water Reactors

The core physics investigations at the Nuclear Research Consultancy Group in the Netherlands, as part of the activities within the HTR-N project of the European Fifth Framework Program, are focused on the incineration of pure (first- and second-generation) Pu fuels in the reference pebble bed high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR) HTR-MODUL with a continuous reload [MEDUL, (MEhrfach DUrchLauf, multipass)] fueling strategy in which the spherical fuel elements, or pebbles, pass through the core a number of times before being permanently discharged. For pebbles fueled with different loadings of plutonium, the feasibility of a sustained fuel cycle under nominal reactor conditions was investigated by means of the reactivity and temperature coefficients of the reactor. The HTR-MODUL was found to be a very effective reactor to reduce the stockpile of first-generation plutonium. It reduces the amount of plutonium to about one-sixth of the original and reduces the risk of proliferation by denaturing the plutonium vector. For second-generation plutonium the incineration is less favorable, as the amount of plutonium is only halved.

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