Investigation of the possibility of Am-241 incineration and transmutation in ameritium-fueled reactor
Studies were carried out on the transmutation of americium in nuclear reactor loaded with americium fuel instead of conventional types of nuclear fuel – uranium and/or MOX-fuel. The advantages of implementation of this approach to transmutation as compared with traditional ones are fairly obvious. Thus, if, for instance, a reactor loaded with uranium or MOX-fuel is used for transmutation, then, in addition to burning «foreign» minor actinides, it will simultaneously be breeding «its own» long-lived nuclides. In the case of fuel composed of some minor actinides, it will be only incinerating «its own» inventory. Analysis demonstrated that only a fast reactor must be used for the purpose, which is associated with special properties of neutron capture and fission cross-sections for minor actinides compared to nuclides in the composition of conventional fuel. The results of calculations demonstrated fairly high rate of americium transmutation in reactor loaded with americium fuel.
Implemented studies of americium transmutation revealed an interesting effect. After initiation of irradiation the value of keff first increases and then begins to decrease. The explanation is associated with accumulation of nuclides additionally contributing in the multiplication factor as compared with fresh americium. An important argument in favor of reactor load with americium fuel is that by burning long-lived waste we produce electrical energy. The problem for nuclear reactor loaded with uranium or with MOX-fuel is, as well, that transmutation impairs reactor economy and its performance parameters. Designing reactor core with americium fuel remains to be problematic. The problem of high heat dissipation of such fuel must be addressed in the first place.
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