The goals of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) are to expand the use of nuclear energy to meet increasing global energy demand in an environmentally sustainable manner, to address nuclear waste management issues without making separated plutonium, and to address nonproliferation concerns. The Advanced Burner Reactor (ABR) is a fast reactor concept that supports the GNEP fuel cycle system. Since the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) and Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor (ALMR) projects were terminated in 1994, there has been no major development on sodium-cooled fast reactors in the United States. Therefore, in support of the GNEP ABR program, the history of sodium-cooled reactor development was reviewed to support the initiation of this technology within the United States and to gain an understanding of the technology gaps that may still remain for sodium fast reactor technology.
A sodium-heated steam generator is one of the key components in the fast reactor system since it provides interface between sodium and water. In this gap analysis, information of fabrication and operation experiences in reactor plant steam generators and prototype steam generators was carefully reviewed, for example the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant, the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR), and Phénix steam generators; the Babcock & Wilcox helical coil tube, 70 MW; the Westinghouse double-wall tube, 70 MW; the Clinch River Breeder Reactor (CRBR) full-scale evaporator; the Superphénix prototype helical coil tube, 45 MW; the SNR-300 prototype straight tube, 50 MW; the SNR-300 prototype helical coil tube, 50 MW; and the Monju prototype helical coil tube, 50 MW. The results of this evaluation indicate that straight and helical coil tube steam generators are the best immediate candidate designs for producing reliable steam generators for future sodium fast reactor applications. Though the design comparison suggested that the straight tube type has the advantages of compactness and ease of inspection, prototype tests revealed more technical problems than the helical modules. From the viewpoint of tube material, 2¼Cr steel has been well established, and Incoloy® 800, 9Cr, and 12Cr steels are available as higher-performance materials.