Westinghouse Electric Company (referred to as “Westinghouse” in the rest of this paper) is proposing a "back-to-front" approach to overcome the stalemate on nuclear waste management in the US. In this approach, requirements to further the societal acceptance of nuclear waste are such that the ultimate health hazard resulting from the waste package is “as low as reasonably achievable”. Societal acceptability of nuclear waste can be enhanced by reducing the long-term radiotoxicity of the waste, which is currently driven primarily by the protracted radiotoxicity of the transuranic (TRU) isotopes. Therefore, a transition to a more benign radioactive waste can be accomplished by a fuel cycle capable of consuming the stockpile of TRU “legacy” waste contained in the LWR Used Nuclear Fuel (UNF) while generating waste which is significantly less radiotoxic than that produced by the current open U-based fuel cycle (once through and variations thereof). Investigation of a fast reactor (FR) operating on a thorium-based fuel cycle, as opposed to the traditional uranium-based is performed. Due to a combination between its neutronic properties and its low position in the actinide chain, thorium not only burns the legacy TRU waste, but it does so with a minimal production of “new” TRUs. The effectiveness of a thorium-based fast reactor to burn legacy TRU and its flexibility to incorporate various fuels and recycle schemes according to the evolving needs of the transmutation scenario have been investigated. Specifically, the potential for a high TRU burning rate, high U-233 generation rate if so desired and low concurrent production of TRU have been used as metrics for the examined cycles. Core physics simulations of a fast reactor core running on thorium-based fuels and burning an external TRU feed supply have been carried out over multiple cycles of irradiation, separation and reprocessing. The TRU burning capability as well as the core isotopic content have been characterized. Results will be presented showing the potential for thorium to reach a high TRU transmutation rate over a wide variety of fuel types (oxide, metal, nitride and carbide) and transmutation schemes (recycle or partition of in-bred U-233). In addition, a sustainable scheme has been devised to burn the TRU accumulated in the core inventory once the legacy TRU supply has been exhausted, thereby achieving long-term virtually TRU-free.
|Titolo:||Transuranic Waste Burning Potential of Thorium Fuel in a Fast Reactor|
|Autori:||M. Wenner; F. Franceschini; P. Ferroni; A. Sartori; M.E. Ricotti|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||4.1 Contribution in Conference proceedings|