Small power lead fast reactor with metallic fuel
The possibility for obtaining a hard neutron spectrum in small reactor cores is considered. A harder spectrum, than spectra in known fast sodium and molten salt reactors, has been obtained thanks to the selection of relatively small core dimensions and the use of metallic fuel and natural lead (natPb) coolant. In the calculations for these compositions, increased average neutron energy and a high share of hard neutrons in the spectrum (with energies greater than 0.8 MeV) are achieved which is caused by the small inelastic neutron-fuel interaction in the absence of light chemical elements and the coolant containing 52.3% of 208Pb, a low moderating isotope.
An interest in creating reactors with a hard neutron spectrum is explained by the fact that such reactors can be practically used as burners of minor actinides, as well as isotope production and research reactors with new consumer properties. With the uranium oxide fuel (UO2) replaced by metallic uranium-plutonium fuel (U-Pu-Zr), the reactors under consideration have the average energy of neutrons and the share of hard neutrons increasing from 0.554 to 0.724 MeV and from 18 to 28% respectively. And the one-group fission cross-section of 241Am increases from 0.359 to 0.536 barn, while the probability of 241Am fission increases from 22 to 39%. It is suggested that fuel resulting from regeneration of irradiated fuel from fast sodium cooled power reactors to be used as part of future burner reactors. It contains unburnt plutonium isotopes and some 1% of minor actinides (MA) which transmutate into fission products in the process of being reburnt in a harder spectrum. This will make it possible to reduce the MA content in the burner spent fuel and facilitate so the long-term storage conditions for high-level nuclear waste in dedicated devices.
The reported research was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Government of the Kaluga region, grant No 18-48-400004.
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