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Proposal for an International Experimental Pebble Bed Reactor

[+] Author Affiliations
Dawid Serfontein, Eben Mulder

North West University, North West, South Africa

Eberhard Teuchert

Nuclear Technical Consultants (Pty.) Ltd., Leverkusen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Paper No. HTR2008-58174, pp. 687-696; 10 pages
doi:10.1115/HTR2008-58174
From:
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology, Volume 1
  • Washington, DC, USA, September 28–October 1, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4854-8 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3834-1
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME

abstract

HTRs, both prismatic block fuelled and pebble fuelled, feature a number of uniquely beneficial characteristics that will be discussed in this paper. In this paper the construction of an international experimental pebble bed reactor is proposed, possible experiments suggested and an invitation extended to interested partners for co-operation in the project. Experimental verification by nuclear regulators in order to facilitate licensing and the development of a new generation of reactors create a strong need for such a reactor. Suggested experiments include: • Optimized incineration of waste Pu in a pebble bed reactor: The capability to incineration pure reactor grade plutonium by means of ultra high burn-up in pebble bed reactors will be presented at this conference in the track on fuel and fuel cycles. This will enable incineration of the global stockpile of separated reactor grade Pu within a relatively short time span; • Testing of fuel sphere geometries, aimed at improving neutron moderation and a decrease in fuel temperatures; • Th/Pu fuel cycles: Previous HTR programs demonstrated the viability of a Th-232 fuel-cycle, using highly enriched uranium (HEU) as driver material. However, considerations favoring proliferation resistance limit the enrichment level of uranium in commercial reactors to 20%, thereby lowering the isotopic efficiency. Therefore, Pu driver material should be developed to replace the HEU component. Instead of deploying a (Th, Pu)O2 fuel concept, the proposal is to use the unique capability offered by pebble bed reactors in deploying separate Th- and Pu-containing pebbles, which can be cycled differently; • Testing of carbon-fiber-carbon (CFC) structures for in-core or near-core applications, such as guide tubes for reserve shutdown systems, thus creating the possibility to safely shutdown reactors with increased diameter; • Development of very high temperature reactor components for process heat applications; • Advanced decay heat removal systems e.g. design specific air flow channels, or heat pipe designs external to the reactor pressure vessel; • Development of a plutonium fuelled peaking reactor with the proposed duel cycle; • A radial coolant flow pattern with increased power output; • Testing of carbon-fiber-carbon (CFC) core barrel applications. The design will facilitate ease of licensing by sacrificing performance in favor of safety and employing redundant defense-in-depth safety systems. Speedy licensing is therefore expected. The economic model will be based on a commercial expedition of the agreed experimental value to collaborating participants. Target costs will be minimized by exploiting known technology only and by utilizing off-the-shelf components as far as possible.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME

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