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Thermal Analysis of a Fuel-Handling System for Sodium-Cooled Reactor with Minor Actinide-Bearing Metal Fuel

Yoshitaka Chikazawa, Christopher Grandy

Nuclear Technology

Volume 165 / Number 3 / March 2009 / Pages 321-332


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The Advanced Burner Reactor (ABR) is one of the components of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) used to close the fuel cycle. ABR is a sodium-cooled fast reactor that is used to consume transuranic elements resulting from the reprocessing of light water reactor spent nuclear fuel. ABR-1000 [1000 MW(thermal)] is a fast reactor concept created at Argonne National Laboratory to be used as a reference concept for various future trade-offs. ABR-1000 meets the GNEP goals although it uses what is considered base sodium fast reactor technology for its systems and components. One of the considerations of any fast reactor plant concept is the ability to perform fuel-handling operations with new and spent fast reactor fuel. The transmutation fuel proposed as the ABR fuel has a very little experience base, and thus, this paper investigates a fuel-handling concept and potential issues of handling fast reactor fuel containing minor actinides. In this study, two thermal analyses supporting a conceptual design study on the ABR-1000 fuel-handling system were carried out. One analysis investigated passive dry spent fuel storage, and the other analysis investigated a fresh fuel shipping cask. Passive dry storage can be made suitable for the ABR-1000 spent fuel storage with sodium-bonded metal fuel. The thermal analysis shows that spent fast reactor fuel with a decay heat of 2 kW or less can be stored passively in a helium atmosphere. The 2-kW value seems to be a reasonable and practical level, and a combination of reasonably-sized in-sodium storage followed by passive dry storage could be a candidate for spent fuel storage for the next-generation sodium-cooled reactor with sodium-bonded metal fuel. Requirements for the shipping casks for minor actinide-bearing fuel with a high decay heat level are also discussed in this paper. The shipping cask for fresh sodium-cooled-reactor fuel should be a dry type to reduce the reaction between residual moisture on fresh fuel and the sodium coolant. The cladding temperature requirement is maintained below the creep temperature limit to avoid any damage before core installation. The thermal analysis shows that a helium gas-filled cask can accommodate ABR-1000 fresh minor actinide-bearing fuel with 700-W decay heat. The above analysis results revealed the overall requirement for minor actinide-bearing metal fuel handling. The information is thought to be helpful in the design of the ABR-1000 and future sodium-cooled-reactor fuel-handling system.

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