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Assessment of a Heterogeneous PWR Assembly for Plutonium and Minor Actinide Recycle

T. A. Taiwo, T. K. Kim, J. A. Stillman, R. N. Hill, M. Salvatores, P. J. Finck

Nuclear Technology

Volume 155 / Number 1 / July 2006 / Pages 34-54


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Options for both full and partial transuranics (TRU) recycle in pressurized water reactors with a heterogeneous assembly design have been assessed. The impacts of these options on proliferation resistance, fuel handling, and repository performance were evaluated. The results indicate that the option of all-TRU recycle is the one most beneficial for the repository and nonproliferation, but this option also results in the most problems for fuel handling at the fabrication stage as a result of the high spontaneous fission neutron emission rate. Recycling americium in the fuel cycle provides significant benefits for both nonproliferation and repository performance over that obtained with plutonium-only recycling. Coupling americium recycling in the fuel cycle with storage of curium is an option that appears promising, if an appropriate solution for curium storage is found. Results for the various performance indices suggest that at least seven recycles of the TRU can be performed using the heterogeneous assembly design, provided remote handling of fuel is a price that is acceptable for the transmutation mission. Three recycles with an extended cooling interval prior to loading in advanced reactor transmutation systems is another option; the delay time provided by this campaign could be used to develop and deploy the advanced systems.

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