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Report No.

Pu Vector Sensitivity Study for a Pu Burning Fast Reactor Part II:Rod Worth Assessment and Design Optimization


This study was based on a 'pancake' type fast reactor core design of 600 MW(e), which had been optimized for Pu burning with a feed Pu vector appropriate to once-through irradiation of MOX fuel in a PWR. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of varying the Pu vector, examining various methods of offsetting the effects of such a change, and finally to produce fuel cycles optimized for the different qualities of Pu vector within the same basic design. In addition to the reference (once-through) Pu vector, two extreme Pu vectors were examined: high quality Pu from military stockpiles; low quality Pu corresponding to the equilibrium point of multiple recycling in a Pu burning fast reactor. Variations in Pu quality were overcome by changing the fuel inventory - replacing some of the fuel by diluent material, and altering the fuel pin size. Using absorber material ($$^{10}$$B$$_{4}$$C) as diluent improves the rod worth shutdown margin but degrades the Na void and Doppler safety parameters, a non-absorber diluent has the opposite effects, so a mix of the 2 material types was used to optimize the core characteristics. Of the non-absorber diluent materials examined, ZrH gave significantly better performance than all others; $$^{11}$$B$$_{4}$$C was the second choice for non-absorber diluent, because of its compatibility with $$^{10}$$B$$_{4}$$C absorber. It was not possible to accommodate the lower quality (multi-recycled) Pu vector without a significant increase in the fuel pin volume. It was not generally possible, especially with the increased fuel pin size, to achieve positive rod worth shutdown margins - this was overcome by increasing the number of control rods. For the higher quality Pu vectors to maintain ratings within limits, it was necessary to adopt hollow fuel pellets, or else to use the diluent material as an inert matrix in the fuel pellets. It proved possible to accommodate both extremes of Pu vector within a single basic design, maintaining ...



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