Three-component U-Pu-Th fuel for plutonium irradiation in heavy water reactors
1 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sir Robert Hadfield Building, Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD, UK
2 Nuclear-21.net, Waasmunster, Belgium
3 University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
4 University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
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Received in final form: 15 March 2016
Accepted: 8 April 2016
Published online: 6 June 2016
This paper discusses concepts for three-component fuel bundles containing plutonium, uranium and thorium for use in pressurised heavy water reactors, and cases for and against implementation of such a nuclear energy system in the United Kingdom. Heavy water reactors are used extensively in Canada, and are deploying within India and China, whilst the UK is considering the use of heavy water reactors to manage its plutonium inventory of 140 tonnes. The UK heavy water reactor proposal uses a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel of plutonium in depleted uranium, within the enhanced CANDU-6 (EC-6) reactor. This work proposes an alternative heterogeneous fuel concept based on the same reactor and CANFLEX fuel bundle, with eight large-diameter fuel elements loaded with natural thorium oxide and 35 small-diameter fuel elements loaded with a MOX of plutonium and reprocessed uranium stocks from UK MAGNOX and AGR reactors. Indicative neutronic calculations suggest that such a fuel would be neutronically feasible. A similar MOX may alternatively be fabricated from reprocessed <5% enriched light water reactor fuel, such as the fuel of the AREVA EPR reactor, to consume newly produced plutonium from reprocessing, similar to the DUPIC (direct use of PWR fuel in CANDU) process.
© R. Peel et al., published by EDP Sciences, 2016
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