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Performance Assessment for Geological Disposal of Graphite Waste Containing TRISO Particles

Bret Patrick van den Akker, Joonhong Ahn

Nuclear Technology

Volume 181 / Number 3 / March 2013 / Pages 408-426


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This paper presents a deterministic performance assessment for spent fuel from deep-burn modular high-temperature reactors (DBMHRs) in the proposed Yucca Mountain repository. Typical DBMHR designs utilize fuel elements manufactured from graphite. The fuel itself is made of TRISO particles containing the fissile material. The performance of the DBMHR spent fuel (DBSF) was evaluated in terms of the annual dose to the reasonably maximally exposed individual (RMEI) under various hydrogeological conditions. Part of this evaluation was an analysis of the graphite waste matrix and of the TRISO particles under repository conditions, the result of which indicates that the lifetime of the graphite matrix greatly exceeds that of the TRISO particles and that it is the graphite, not the TRISO particles, that serves to sequester the radionuclides within the fuel matrix. Under all 14 cases considered, DBSF is seen to comply with the annual dose standards set in Part 197 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, for exposure via groundwater contamination under current climatic conditions. Parametric studies for the effect of waste matrix lifetime on annual dose received by the RMEI indicate that repository performance is sensitively linked to waste matrix durability because most radionuclides including actinides are likely to be released congruently with the graphite matrix.

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