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New Fuel Cycle and Fuel Management Options in Heavy Liquid Metal-Cooled Reactors

Ehud Greenspan, Pavel Hejzlar, Hiroshi Sekimoto, Georgy Toshinsky, David Wade

Nuclear Technology

Volume 151 / Number 2 / August 2005 / Pages 177-191


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Fast reactors cooled by lead or lead-bismuth alloy offer new interesting fuel cycle and fuel management options by virtue of the superb neutronics and safety features of these heavy liquid metal (HLM) coolants. One option is once-for-life cores having relatively low power density. These cores are fueled in the factory; there is no refueling or fuel shuffling on site. A second option is very long-life cores being made of a fissioning zone and a natural uranium blanket zone. The fissioning zone very slowly drifts toward the blanket. A third option is multirecycling of light water reactor (LWR) discharged fuel without partitioning of transuranics (TRUs) in fuel-self-sustaining reactors. LWR spent fuel could provide the initial fuel loading after extracting fission products and ~90% of its uranium. The makeup fuel is natural or depleted uranium. A fourth option is the high-burnup once-through fuel cycle using natural or depleted uranium feed. The initial fuel loading of this reactor is a mixture of enriched and natural uranium. The natural uranium utilization is 10 to 20 times higher than that of a once-through LWR. A fifth option is transmutation of TRUs from LWRs using critical HLM-cooled reactors; such reactors could be designed to have the same high actinide burning capability of accelerator-driven systems and have comparable safety, but at a substantially lower cost. These novel reactor designs and fuel management options are hereby reviewed.

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