Possibility of the Usage of the Lead Enriched with the Isotope Lead-208 from Thorium Ores and Minerals for Nuclear Energy Needs
In the paper the usage of radiogenic lead recovered from thorium ores and minerals is investigated as a possible liquid heavy metal coolant for Fast Reactors (FRs) and Accelerator Driven Systems (ADSs). This radiogenic lead is strongly enriched with Pb-208 isotope, which is characterized with very low neutron capture cross sections at low and intermediate energies (5 eV-50 keV). The FR or ADS coolant based on Pb-208 is very attractive material from the view point of neutronics that brings the possibility of minimization of fuel loading, enhancing fuel breeding and transmutation of long-lived fission products, geological and economical aspects of acquisition of large quantities of radiogenic lead are discussed. Nowadays in the Russian Federation and the Ukraine loparit ores and monazite minerals are reprocessed for production of rаre metal raw. Thorium and lead are not required now and they are deposited in sludge. The conclusion is made that to obtain the minimum amount of required in future radiogenic lead (65 t/year) for small sized FRs and ADSs the very large quantities of ores or minerals must be reprocessed and acquisition of radiogenic Pb-208 can be economically acceptable as a co-product of rear metal raw.