Analysis of the Pebble-Bed VHTR Spectrum Shifting Capabilities for Advanced Fuel Cycles
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Gas-cooled nuclear reactors have been receiving specific attention for Generation IV possibilities due to desired characteristics such as relatively low cost, short construction period, and inherent safety. Attractive inherent characteristics include an inert, single phase helium coolant, refractory coated fuel with high temperature capability and low fission product release, and graphite moderator with high temperature stability and long response times. The passively safe design has a relatively low power density, annular core, large negative temperature coefficient, and passive decay heat removal system. The objective of the U.S. DOE NERI Project is to assess the possibility, advantages and limitations of achieving ultra-long life VHTR (Very High Temperature Reactor) configurations by utilizing minor actinides as a fuel component. The present analysis takes into consideration and compares capabilities of pebble-bed core designs with various core and reflector configuration to allow spectrum shifting for advanced actinide fuels. Whole-core 3D models for pebble-bed design with multi-heterogeneity treatments in SCALE 5.0 are developed to compare computational results with experiments. Obtained results are in agreement with the available HTR-10 data. By altering the moderator to fuel ratio, a shift in the spectrum is observed. The use of minor actinides as fuel components relies on spectrum shifting capabilities. Actinide fueled VHTR configurations reveal promising performance. With an optimized pebble-bed model, the spectrum shifting abilities are apparent and effects of altered moderator to fuel ratio, and Dancoff factor are investigated. This will lead to a facilitated development of new fuel cycles in support of future operation of Generation IV nuclear energy systems.
Pritchard, Megan; Tsvetkov, Pavel (2009). Analysis of the Pebble-Bed VHTR Spectrum Shifting Capabilities for Advanced Fuel Cycles. Available electronically from