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[en] Once-through fuel cycle systems are commercially used for the generation of nuclear power, with little exception. The bulk of these once-through systems have been water-cooled reactors (light-water and heavy water reactors, LWRs and HWRs). Some gas-cooled reactors are used in the United Kingdom. The commercial power systems that are exceptions use limited recycle (currently one recycle) of transuranic elements, primarily plutonium, as done in Europe and nearing deployment in Japan. For most of these once-through fuel cycles, the ultimate storage of the used (spent) nuclear fuel (UNF, SNF) will be in a geologic repository. Besides the commercial nuclear plants, new once-through concepts are being proposed for various objectives under international advanced nuclear fuel cycle studies and by industrial and venture capital groups. Some of the objectives for these systems include: (1) Long life core for remote use or foreign export and to support proliferation risk reduction goals - In these systems the intent is to achieve very long core-life with no refueling and limited or no access to the fuel. Most of these systems are fast spectrum systems and have been designed with the intent to improve plant economics, minimize nuclear waste, enhance system safety, and reduce proliferation risk. Some of these designs are being developed under Generation IV International Forum activities and have generally not used fuel blankets and have limited the fissile content of the fuel to less than 20% for the purpose on meeting international nonproliferation objectives. In general, the systems attempt to use transuranic elements (TRU) produced in current commercial nuclear power plants as this is seen as a way to minimize the amount of the problematic radio-nuclides that have to be stored in a repository. In this case, however, the reprocessing of the commercial LWR UNF to produce the initial fuel will be necessary. For this reason, some of the systems plan to use low enriched uranium (LEU) fuels. Examples of systems in this class include the small modular reactors being considered internationally; e.g. 4S (Tsuboi 2009), Hyperion Power Module (Deal 2010), ARC-100 (Wade 2010), and SSTAR (Smith 2008). (2) Systems for Resource Utilization - In recent years, interest has developed in the use of advanced nuclear designs for the effective utilization of fuel resources. Systems under this class have generally utilized the breed and burn concept in which fissile material is bred and used in situ in the reactor core. Due to the favorable breeding that is possible with fast neutrons, these systems have tended to be fast spectrum systems. In the once-through concepts (as opposed to the traditional multirecycle approach typically considered for fast reactors), an ignition (or starter) zone contains driver fuel which is fissile material. This zone is designed to last a long time period to allow the breeding of sufficient fissile material in the adjoining blanket zone. The blanket zone is initially made of fertile depleted uranium fuel. This zone could also be made of fertile thorium fuel or recovered uranium from fuel reprocessing or natural uranium. However, given the bulk of depleted uranium and the potentially large inventory of recovered uranium, it is unlikely that the use of thorium is required in the near term in the U.S. Following the breeding of plutonium or fissile U-233 in the blanket, this zone or assembly then carries a larger fraction of the power generation in the reactor. These systems tend to also have a long cycle length (or core life) and they could be with or without fuel shuffling. When fuel is shuffled, the incoming fuel is generally depleted uranium (or thorium) fuel. In any case, fuel is burned once and then discharged. Examples of systems in this class include the CANDLE concept (Sekimoto 2001), the traveling wave reactor (TWR) concept of TerraPower (Ellis 2010), the ultra-long life fast reactor (ULFR) by ANL (Kim 2010), and the BNL fast mixed spectrum reactor (FMSR) concept (Fisher 1979). (3) Thermal systems for resource extension - These systems were primarily considered during the INFCE/NASAP evaluations (NASAP 1979) and include various LWR designs for increasing resource utilization (both uranium and thorium). This class would include the Radkowsky seed-blanket concept. Also included in this class are the thermal reactor systems being considered for deployment as small modular reactors, such as IRIS (Carelli 2004), mPower (mPower), and NuScale (NuScale) that are all water cooled reactors. The purpose of this work is to provide relevant systems and fuel cycle information for some of these once-through fuel cycle systems. In this report, the intent is on providing information on most of the systems from open sources and from scoping studies recently done within the program. As there is insufficient fuel cycle information on the first class of systems, they are not discussed in this report.
[en] The use of thorium in current or advanced light water reactors (LWRs) has been of interest in recent years. These interests have been associated with the need to increase nuclear fuel resources and the perceived non-proliferation advantages of the utilization of thorium in the fuel cycle. Various options have been considered for the use of thorium in the LWR fuel cycle including: (1) its use in a once-through fuel cycle to replace non-fissile uranium or to extend fuel burnup due to its attractive fertile material conversion, (2) its use for fissile plutonium burning in limited recycle cores, and (3) its advantage in limiting the transuranic elements to be disposed off in a repository (if only Th/U-233 fuel is used). The possibility for thorium utilization in multirecycle system has also been considered by various researchers, primarily because of the potential for near breeders with Th/U-233 in the thermal energy range. The objective of this project is to evaluate the potential of the Th/U-233 fuel multirecycle in current LWRs, with focus this year on pressurized water reactors (PWRs). In this work, approaches for ensuring a sustainable multirecycle without the need for external source of makeup fissile material have been investigated. The intent is to achieve a design that allows existing PWRs to be used with minimal modifications. In all cases including homogeneous and heterogeneous assembly designs, the assembly pitch is kept consistent with that of the current PWRs (21.5 cm used). Because of design difficulties associated with using the same geometry and dimensions as a PWR core, the potential modifications (other than assembly pitch) that would be needed for PWRs to ensure a sustainable multirecycle system have been investigated and characterized. Additionally, the implications of the use of thorium on the LWR fuel cycle are discussed. In Section 2, background information on studies evaluating the use of thorium in the fuel cycle is provided, but focusing on Th/U-233 multirecycle. Recent studies done internationally and in the U.S. are briefly summarized. Additionally, the previous U.S. thorium breeder experiment in the Shippingport reactor is briefly discussed. The objective of this work and the reactor design issues associated with multirecycle of Th/U-233 are discussed in Section 3. The approaches required to achieve a sustainable system are discussed and evaluated. Homogeneous assembly modeling results are presented in this section. In Section 4, a 17-by-17 heterogeneous assembly design has been selected and evaluated, based on its positive attributes for sustainable Th/U-233 multirecycle. A feasibility study is briefly discussed at the end of this section followed by recommendations for future activities. Section 5 discusses the attributes of the 17-by-17 heterogeneous assembly design. The material mass flow data and fuel cycle impact data are reported in this section. Discussions on the fuel cycle implications of thorium fuel utilization are provided in Section 6. This includes information on fuel sources, fuel manufacturing, fuel reprocessing, and re-fabrication. The conclusions of the study are provided in Section 7.
[en] The U.S. government announced in February 2006 the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) to expand the use of nuclear energy to meet increasing global energy demand, to address nuclear waste management concerns and to promote non-proliferation. The advanced burner reactor (ABR) based on a fast spectrum is one of the three major technologies to be demonstrated in GNEP. In FY06, a pre-conceptual design study was performed to develop an advanced burner test reactor (ABTR) that supports development of a prototype full-scale ABR, which would be followed by commercial deployment of ABRs. The primary objectives of the ABTR were (1) to demonstrate reactor-based transmutation of transuranics (TRU) as part of an advanced fuel cycle, (2) to qualify the TRU-containing fuels and advanced structural materials needed for a full-scale ABR, (3) to support the research, development and demonstration required for certification of an ABR standard design by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Based on these objectives, core design and fuel cycle studies were performed to develop ABTR core designs, which can accommodate the expected changes of the TRU feed and the conversion ratio. Various option and trade-off studies were performed to determine the appropriate power level and conversion ratio. Both ternary metal alloy (U-TRU-10Zr) and mixed oxide (UO2-TRUO2) fuel forms have been considered with TRU feeds from weapons-grade plutonium (WG-Pu) and TRU recovered from light water reactor spent fuel (LWR-SF). Reactor performances were evaluated in detail including equilibrium cycle core parameters, mass flow, power distribution, kinetic parameters, reactivity feedback coefficient, reactivity control requirements and shutdown margins, and spent fuel characteristics. Trade-off studies on power level suggested that about 250 MWt is a reasonable compromise to allow a low project cost, at the same time providing a reasonable prototypic irradiation environment for demonstrating TRU-based fuels. Preliminary design studies showed that it is feasible to design the ABTR to accommodate a wide range of conversion ratio (CR) by employing different assembly designs. The TRU enrichments required for various conversion ratios and the irradiation database suggested a phased approach with initial startup using conventional enrichment plutonium-based fuel and gradual transitioning to full core loading of transmutation fuel after its qualification phase (resulting in ∼0.6 CR). The low CR transmutation fuel tests can be accommodated in the designated test assemblies, and if fully developed, core conversion to low CR fuel can be envisioned. Reference ABTR core designs with a rated power of 250 MWt were developed for ternary metal alloy and mixed oxide fuels based on WG-Pu feed. The reference core contains 54 driver, 6 test fuel, and 3 test material assemblies. For the startup core designs, the calculated TRU conversion ratio is 0.65 for the metal fuel core and 0.64 for the oxide fuel core. Both the metal and oxide cores show good performances. The metal fuel core requires an average TRU enrichment of 18.8% and yields a reactivity swing of 1.2 %Δk over the 4-month cycle. The core average flux level is ∼2.4 x 1015 n/cm2s, and test assembly flux level is ∼2.8 x 1015 n/cm2s. Compared to the metal fuel core, the lower density oxide fuel core requires an average TRU enrichment of 21.8%, which results in a 780 kg TRU loading (as compared to 732 kg for metal) despite a ∼9% smaller heavy metal inventory. The lower heavy metal inventory increases the burnup reactivity swing by ∼10% and reduces the flux levels by ∼8%. Alternative designs were also studied for a LWR-SF TRU feed and a low conversion ratio, including the recycle of the ABTR spent fuel TRU. The lower fissile contents of the LWR-SF TRU relative to the WG-Pu TRU significantly increase the required TRU enrichment of the startup cores to maintain the same cycle length. The even lower fissile fraction of the ABTR spent fuel TRU further increases the TRU enrichments of the recycled cores. The reduced fissile content increases the fissile conversion ratio, and the increased TRU enrichment decreases the TRU conversion ratio. For example, the average TRU enrichment of the recycled core increases from 18.8% to 27.2% for the metal fuel and from 21.8% to 33.4% for the oxide core. The TRU conversion ratio is decreased from 0.65 to 0.56 for the metal core and from 0.64 to 0.52 for the oxide core. In the full paper, the details of design and performance characteristics will be presented along with the analysis methods.
[en] A method for purifying molybdenum is described comprising: (a) adding to an ammoniacal ammonium molybdate solution which is at a pH of from about 8.5 to about 11 and which contains the impurities of phosphorus and arsenic with the phosphorus concentration being from about 0.01 to about 0.12 g/l, a soluble magnesium salt to form a precipitate comprising magnesium ammonium salts of the phosphorus and the arsenic, and to form a purified ammonium molybdate solution, with the amount of the magnesium salt being added in an amount sufficient to result in a concentration of from about 0.005 to about 0.04 moles Mg/l in the ammoniacal ammonium molybdate solution, and the purified solution containing no greater than about 0.01 g P/l; (b) separating the precipitate from the purified ammonium molybdate solution; and (c) contacting the purified ammonium molybdate solution with a chelating cation exchange resin supplying a sufficient amount of ammonium as the cation to remove the major portion of the magnesium ions from the purified solution and form a further purified ammonium molybdate solution
[en] Neutronic studies of 18-pin and 36-pin stringer fuel assemblies have been performed to ascertain that core design requirements for the Liquid-Salt Cooled Very High Temperature Reactor (LS-VHTR) can be met. Parametric studies were performed to determine core characteristics required to achieve a target core cycle length of 18 months and fuel discharge burnup greater than 100 GWd/t under the constraint that the uranium enrichment be less than 20% in order to support non-proliferation goals. The studies were done using the WIMS9 lattice code and the linear reactivity model to estimate the core reactivity balance, fuel composition, and discharge burnup. The results show that the design goals can be met using a 1-batch fuel management scheme, uranium enrichment of 15% and a fuel packing fraction of 30% or greater for the 36-pin stringer fuel assembly design.Evaluations of a liquid-salt- (molten-salt-) cooled version of the prismatic-block type VHTR, the LS-VHTR, are ongoing at U.S. national laboratories, universities, and industry. These evaluations have included core and passive safety studies and balance of plant conceptual designs.
[en] The use of thorium in current or advanced light water reactors (LWRs) has been of interest in recent years. These interests have been associated with the need to increase nuclear fuel resources and the perceived non-proliferation advantages of the utilization of thorium in the fuel cycle. Various options have been considered for the use of thorium in the LWR fuel cycle. The possibility for thorium utilization in a multi-recycle system has also been considered in past literature, primarily because of the potential for near breeders with Th/U-233 in the thermal energy range. The objective of this study is to evaluate the potential of Th/U-233 fuel multi-recycle in current LWRs, focusing on pressurized water reactors (PWRs). Approaches for sustainable multi-recycle without the need for external fissile material makeup have been investigated. The intent is to obtain a design that allows existing PWRs to be used with minimal modifications.
[en] This patent describes a process for extracting tungsten from an aqueous alkali tungstate solution by solvent extraction comprising the steps of: (a) extracting tungsten values into an organic extractant; (b) separating the loaded organic extractant from the aqueous solution containing a portion of the impurities; (c) stripping the loaded organic extractant from step (b) by contacting with an aqueous ammonia solution to form an aqueous ammonium tungstate solution and a stripped organic extractant; and feeding the stripped organic extractant to step (a) for use as the organic extractant. The improvement comprises removing the bromine compounds from the major portion of the stripped organic and thereafter using at least a portion of the resulting bromine free stripped organic to make up at least a portion of the organic extractant in step (a)
[en] This paper describes the core design and performance characteristics of 1000 MWth Advanced Burner Reactor (ABR) core concepts with a wide range of TRU conversion ratio. Using ternary metal alloy and mixed oxide fuels, reference core designs of a medium TRU conversion ratio of ∼0.7 were developed by trade-off between burnup reactivity loss and TRU conversion ratio. Based on these reference core concepts, TRU burner cores with low and high TRU conversion ratios were developed by changing the intra-assembly design parameters and core configurations. Reactor performance characteristics were evaluated in detail, including equilibrium cycle core performances, reactivity feedback coefficients, and shutdown margins. The results showed that by employing different assembly designs, a wide range of TRU conversion ratios from ∼0.2 to break-even can be achieved within the same core without introducing significant performance and safety penalties.
[en] A description of 12 USA patents, published from January, 1981 till June, 1983 is given. They contain new methods for tungsten and molybdenum extraction using mainly complex organic solvents. Consideration is being given to processes of caustic treatment of tungsten ore in autoclaves, molybdenum extraction by repulping slime of leaching by ammonium hydroxide at high oxygen pressure, tungsten purification from boron impurity by ion exchange. Application of high-frequency heating in extraction of molybdenum and rhenium from their sulfides is described
[en] An ultra-long life core concept is proposed targeting capital and operational cost reductions and ultra-high discharge burnup in a fast reactor system. The core concept is achieved by de-rating the power density and adopting annular core geometry to maintain criticality for more than 40 years without refueling. The ultra-long life core has a specific power of ∼10 MW/t and an average driver fuel discharge burnup of ∼300 GWd/t. It is assumed such ultra-high burnup fuel can be developed within an advanced fuel cycle program. Several benefits are expected from the ultra-long life core concept such as capital and operational cost reductions, low proliferation risk, and effectively holding LWR spent fuel without disposal until technologies for a closed nuclear fuel cycle are developed and deployed. As future work, safety analysis, development of the advanced core cooling methods, and comparative cost analysis are expected. (authors)