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Experience in PWR and BWR Mixed-Oxide Fuel Management

Gerhard J. Schlosser, Wolf-Dieter Krebs, Peter Urban

Nuclear Technology / Volume 102 / Number 1 / Pages 54-67

April 1993


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Germany has adopted the strategy of a closed fuel cycle using reprocessing and recycling. The central issue today is plutonium recycling by the use of U-Pu mixed-oxide (MOX) in pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs). The design of MOX fuel assemblies and fuel management in MOX-containing cores are strongly influenced by the nuclear properties of the plutonium isotopes. Optimized MOX fuel assembly designs for PWRs currently use up to three types of MOX fuel rods having different plutonium contents with natural uranium or uranium tailings as carrier material but without burnable absorbers. The MOX fuel assembly designs for BWRs use four to six rod types with different plutonium contents and Gd2O3/UO2 burnable absorber rods. Both the PWR and the BWR designs attain good burnup equivalence and compatibility with uranium fuel assemblies. High flexibility exists in the loading schemes relative to the position and number of MOX fuel assemblies in the reloads and in the core as a whole. The Siemens experience with MOX fuel assemblies is based on the insertion of 318 MOX fuel assemblies in eight PWRs and 168 in BWRs and pressurized heavy water reactors so far. The primary operating results include information on the cycle length, power distribution, reactivity coefficients, and control rod worth of cores containing MOX fuel assemblies. Normal levels of reliability and safety can be maintained during reactor operation even with higher MOX fuel fractions, fissile contents, and burnup.

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