Plutonium is a significant proliferation concern as well as a major contributor to the long-term toxicity of nuclear waste. Partial incineration in PWRs with uranium-MOX fuel is often considered to mitigate these concerns. Thorium-MOX is an alternative fuel with superior material properties and higher plutonium destruction rates, as shown in multiple feasibility studies. However, the core performance and operational characteristics (e.g. discharge burn-up, feasibility of controlling the core) are ultimately dependent on the core loading pattern (LP) and burnable poison (BP) design. In this paper, the LP for Th-Pu fuel of various compositions is optimized for (1) discharge burn-up, (2) radial form factor (RFF), (3) cycle length, (4) moderator temperature coefficient (MTC), and (5) reactivity swing over cycle. Maximizing the cycle length makes the discharge burn-up and reactivity swing worse due to placement of once- and twice-burnt fuel near the core periphery. It also makes the MTC less negative. The harder neutron spectrum of Th-Pu fuel compared to conventional U fuel favours the use of distributed integral burnable poisons to control the reactivity swing over the cycle. This leads to a significant amount of dissimilarity between LPs with relatively similar performance measures, and between optimal LPs for different Pu loadings in the fuel. The RFF can vary throughout the cycle but a careful placement of the assemblies can mitigate this. The cycle reactivity swing is controlled using enriched soluble boron, which makes the MTC worse, and this constrains feasibility for high Pu loading in the fuel.
- Nuclear Engineering Division
Towards Optimal In-Core Fuel Management of Thorium-Plutonium-Fuelled PWR Cores
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Zainuddin, NZ, Lindley, BA, & Parks, GT. "Towards Optimal In-Core Fuel Management of Thorium-Plutonium-Fuelled PWR Cores." Proceedings of the 2013 21st International Conference on Nuclear Engineering. Volume 6: Beyond Design Basis Events; Student Paper Competition. Chengdu, China. July 29–August 2, 2013. V006T16A005. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICONE21-15246
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