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Resource Demand and Economic Impact of Various Thorium-Based Fuels for Potential Near-Term Use in a Pressure-Tube Heavy Water Reactor

Alberto D. Mendoza España, Daniel Wojtaszek, Ashlea V. Colton, Blair P. Bromley

Nuclear Technology / Volume 203 / Number 3 / September 2018 / Pages 232-243

Technical Paper /

Received:September 5, 2017
Accepted:February 27, 2018
Published:August 15, 2018

This study assesses the resource throughput and utilization of various thorium-based fuel concepts for near-term deployment in a pressure-tube heavy water reactor (PT-HWR). Such fuel concepts may be of interest to nations with thorium reserves that are interested in exploiting PT-HWRs. Given that nations with abundant thorium reserves and relatively small uranium reserves have an interest in reducing their dependence on natural uranium (NU) imports, the thorium-based fuel concepts are assessed in terms of their ability to conserve uranium resources and their impact on national income using an economic multiplier analysis. It is found that there are some thorium-augmented and thorium-based fuel concepts that are capable of both conserving resources and reducing reliance on importing NU, which would reduce the negative impact on national income from importing NU. A PT-HWR fuel bundle concept of 1.2 wt% 235U/U + Th (in a central fuel element and small amounts mixed into the outer 36 fuel elements) was found to be the most advantageous and attractive for implementation to improve nuclear fuel resource utilization.

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