Transmutation of Americium in Fast Neutron Facilities

Master thesis English OPEN
Zhang, Youpeng (2011)
  • Publisher: Stockholm : KTH Royal Insitute of Technology
  • Subject: americium | transmutation | fast reactor | Nuclear physics | Kärnfysik | TECHNOLOGY | TEKNIKVETENSKAP

In this thesis, the feasibility to use a medium sized sodium cooled fast reactor fully loaded with MOX fuel for efficient transmutation of americium is investigated by simulating the safety performance of a BN600-type fast reactor loaded with different fractions of americium in the fuel, using the safety parameters obtained with the SERPENT Monte Carlo code. The focus is on americium mainly due to its long-term contribution to the radiotoxicity of spent nuclear fuel and its deterioration on core's safety parameters. Applying the SAS4A/SASSYS transient analysis code, it is demonstrated that the power rating needs to be reduced by 6% for each percent additional americium introduction into the reference MOX fuel, maintaining 100 K margin to fuel melting, which is the most limiting failure mechanism.Safety analysis of a new Accelerator Driven System design with a smaller pin pitch-to-diameter ratio comparing to the reference EFIT-400 design, aiming at improving neutron source efficiency, was also performed by simulating performance for unprotected loss of flow, unprotected transient overpower, and protected loss-of-heat-sink transients, using neutronic parameters obatined from MCNP calculations. Thanks to the introduction of the austenitic 15/15Ti stainless steel with enhanced creep rupture resistance and acceptable irradiation swelling rate, the suggested ADS design loaded with nitride fuel and cooled by lead-bismuth eutectic could survive the full set of transients, preserving a margin of 130 K to cladding rupture during the most limiting transient. The thesis concludes that efficient transmutation of americium in a medium sized sodium cooled fast reactor loaded with MOX fuel is possible but leads to a severe power penalty. Instead, preserving transmutation rates of minor actinides up to 42 kg/TWhth, the suggested ADS design with enhanced proton source efficiency appears like a better option for americium transmutation. QC 20110318
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