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A Transmutation Facility for Weapons-Grade Plutonium Disposition Based on a Tokamak Fusion Neutron Source

W. M. Stagey, B. L. Pilger, J. A. Mowrey, D. G. Norris, M. Dietsghe, E. A. Hoffman, B. A. Abighedid, A. W. Anthony, M. S. Ayres, T. P. Belflower, J. D. Bohner, S. F. Gaputlu, H. M. Goward, H. M. Diller, J. A. Favorite, P. T. Feir, J. S. Gustafson, N. L. Jenkins, T. L. Johnston, J. L. Martin, C. H. Nahass, D. M. Nichter, D. F. Parker, R. A. Sidwell, A. L. Turner, J. D. Wartell

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 27 / Number 3 / May 1995 / Pages 326-347


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It is suggested that weapons-grade plutonium could be processed through a transmutation facility to build up sufficient actinide and fission product inventories to serve as a deterrent to diversion or theft during subsequent storage, pending eventual use as fuel in commercial nuclear reactors. A transmutation facility consisting of a tokamak fusion neutron source surrounded by fuel assemblies containing the weapons-grade plutonium in the form of PuO2 pebbles in a lithium slurry is investigated. A design concept/operation scenario is developed for a facility that would be able to transmute the world's estimated surplus inventory of weapons-grade plutonium to 11% 240Pu concentration in ∼25 yr. The fusion neutron source would be based on plasma physics and plasma support technology being qualified in ongoing research and development (R&D) programs, and the plutonium fuel would be based on existing technology. A new R&D program would be required to qualify a refractory metal alloy structural material that would be needed to handle the high heat fluxes; otherwise, extensions of existing technologies and acceleration of existing R&D programs would seem to be adequate to qualify all required technologies. Such a facility might feasibly be deployed in 20 to 30 yr, or sooner with a crash program.

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