The fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactor (FHR) is a new reactor concept, which combines low-pressure liquid salt coolant and high-temperature tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particle fuel. The refractory TRISO particle coating system and the dispersion in graphite matrix enhance safeguards (nuclear proliferation resistance) and security. Compared to the conventional high-temperature reactor (HTR) cooled by helium gas, the liquid salt system features significantly lower pressure, larger volumetric heat capacity, and higher thermal conductivity. The salt coolant enables coupling to a nuclear air-Brayton combined cycle (NACC) that provides base-load and peak-power capabilities. Added peak power is produced using jet fuel or locally produced hydrogen. The FHR is, therefore, considered as an ideal candidate for the transportable reactor concept to provide power to remote sites. In this context, a 20-MW (thermal power) compact core aiming at an 18-month once-through fuel cycle is currently under design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One of the key challenges of the core design is to minimize the reactivity swing induced by fuel depletion, since excessive reactivity will increase the complexity in control rod design and also result in criticality risk during the transportation process. In this study, burnable poison particles (BPPs) made of B4C with natural boron (i.e., 20% B10 content) are adopted as the key measure for fuel cycle optimization. It was found that the overall inventory and the individual size of BPPs are the two most important parameters that determine the evolution path of the multiplication factor over time. The packing fraction (PF) in the fuel compact and the height of active zone are of secondary importance. The neutronic effect of Li6 depletion was also quantified. The 18-month once-through fuel cycle is optimized, and the depletion reactivity swing is reduced to 1 beta. The reactivity control system, which consists of six control rods and 12 safety rods, has been implemented in the proposed FHR core configuration. It fully satisfies the design goal of limiting the maximum reactivity worth for single control rod ejection within 0.8 beta and ensuring shutdown margin with the most valuable safety rod fully withdrawn. The core power distribution including the control rod’s effect is also demonstrated in this paper.

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