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The Sodium Reactor Experiment
In February 1957, construction was completed on the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE), a sodium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor with an output of 20 MWt. The design of theSRE had begun three years earlier in 1954, and construction started in April 1955. On April 25, 1957, the reactor reached criticality, and the SRE operated until February 1964.
Veronica Karriem, Edward M. Duchnowski, Bin Cheng, Lance L. Snead, Jason R. Trelewicz, Nicholas R. Brown
Nuclear Technology | Volume 208 | Number 7 | July 2022 | Pages 1102-1113
Technical Paper | doi.org/10.1080/00295450.2021.2011573
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
This study evaluates beryllium-based two-phase composite moderators as an alternative to graphite in an evaluation of reactor performance and safety characteristics. Historically, modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (mHTGRs) use graphite as a moderator because of its high moderating ratio and reasonable thermal properties; however, graphite has unfavorable properties under irradiation, which can require component replacement and a significant radioactive waste burden. In this assessment, we explore advanced moderators comprised of magnesium oxide (MgO) as the host matrix and beryllium metal and/or beryllium oxide (Be and/or BeO) as the entrained moderating phase. For the reactor performance and thermal-hydraulic safety analysis, the core design model of the General Atomics mHTGR-350 was used to demonstrate the feasibility of a “drop-in” replacement of graphite using the beryllium-based moderators. We employed the neutronics code Serpent to analyze the moderating behavior of the composite moderators with comparisons drawn to graphite. We performed a scoping analysis of accidents for mHTGRs using RELAP to show that these moderators do not present impediments to safety and are expected to stay within temperature limits. Measured thermophysical properties of the composite moderators are used in the thermal-hydraulic assessments. Our analysis reveals that the two-phase composite MgO-matrix beryllium-based moderators are a suitable replacement for graphite.