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The Capabilities of HTRs to Burn Actinides and to Optimize Plutonium Exploitation

[+] Author Affiliations
Nicola Cerullo

University of Genova, Genova, Italy

D. Bufalino

Research Society for Technological Development (SORIT s.r.l.), Livorno, Italy

G. Forasassi

Interuniversities Consortium for Nuclear Technological Research (CIRTEN), Pisa, Italy

G. Lomonaco, P. Rocchi, V. Romanello

University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

Paper No. ICONE12-49423, pp. 495-501; 7 pages
  • 12th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • 12th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering, Volume 1
  • Arlington, Virginia, USA, April 25–29, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4687-3 | eISBN: 0-7918-3735-1
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


At present, the 125 GWe of nuclear power in the European Union produce about 3000 tons of spent fuel annually, containing about 25 tons of plutonium, 2.5 tons of minor actinides (MA) and about 100 tons of fission products, of which 3.1 tons are long-lived fission products. Actual reprocessing of LWR fuel and a first recycling as mixed plutonium and depleted uranium oxide fuel (MOX) in LWR already contribute to a significant reduction of waste volumes and radiotoxicity. However HTRs have some characteristics which make them particularly attractive: intrinsic safety, cost-effectiveness, reduced thermal pollution, capability of increasing energy availability (with the use of Pu-Th cycle) and of minimizing actinides radiotoxicity and volume of actinides. In this paper particularly the last item is investigated. Symbiotic fuel cycles of LWR and HTR can reach much better waste minimization performances. It happens because of the specific features of HTRs cores that leads to an ultra-high burnup and, last but not least, the ability to accommodate a wide variety of mixtures of fissile and fertile materials without any significant modification of the core design. This property is due to a decoupling between the parameters of cooling geometry and of neutronic optimization. In our calculations we considered a pebble-bed HTR using a Pu-based fuel (deriving from reprocessing of classical LWR fuel and/or weapons grade plutonium) at the maximum technological discharge burnup. As results, we find, at EOL (End Of Life), a relatively small amounts of residual Pu and MA produced in terms of quantities and of radiotoxicities. Furthermore we used in our calculations a different type of fuel based on a mixture of Pu and Th to try to optimize the previous results and to increase energy availability. Calculations have been done using MCNP-based burnup codes, capable of treating 3-D complex geometry and ultra-high burnup.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME



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