Thorium–based fuel cycles : saving uranium in a 200 MWth pebble bed high temperature reactor
Gintner, Stephan Konrad
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The predominant nuclear fuel used globally at present is uranium which is a finite resource. Thorium has been identified as an alternative nuclear fuel source that can be utilized in almost all existing uranium–based reactors and can significantly help in conserving limited uranium reserves. Furthermore, the elimination of proliferation risks associated with thorium–based fuel cycles is a key reason for re–evaluating the possible utilization of thorium in high temperature reactors. In addition to the many advantages that thorium–based fuel has over uranium–based fuel, there are vast thorium resources in the earth's crust that up until the present have not been exploited optimally. This study focuses on determining the amount of uranium ore that can be saved using thorium as a nuclear fuel in HTR's. Four identical 200 MWth high temperature reactors are considered which make use of different fuel cycles. These fuel cycles range from the conventional uranium fuel cycle to a thorium–based fuel cycle in which no U–238 is present and have been simulated using the VSOP–A system of computer codes. This study also considers the effect that protactinium, an isotope that occurs in thorium–based fuel cycles, will have on the decay heat production in the case of a depressurized loss of coolant (DLOFC) accident.
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