Analysis of system characteristics of a reactor with supercritical coolant parameters
For 60 years of its existence, nuclear energy has passed the first stage of its development and has proven that it can become a powerful energy industry, going beyond the 10% level in the global balance of energy production.
Despite this, modern nuclear energy is capable of producing economically acceptable energy only from uranium-235 or plutonium, obtained as a by-product of the use of low enriched uranium for energy production or surplus weapons-grade plutonium.
In this case, nuclear energy cannot claim to be an energy technology that can solve the problems of energy security and sustainable development, since it meets the same economic and ‘geological’ problems as other technologies do, based on the use of exhaustible organic resources.
The solution to this problem will require a new generation of reactors to radically improve fuel-use characteristics. In particular, reactors based on the use of water cooling technology should significantly increase the efficiency of using U-238 in order to reduce the need for natural uranium in a nuclear energy system.
To achieve this goal, it will be necessary to transit to a closed nuclear fuel cycle and, therefore, to improve the performance of a light-water reactor system.
The paper considers the possibility of using a reactor with a fast-resonance neutron spectrum cooled by supercritical water (SCWR). The SCWR can be effectively used in a closed nuclear fuel cycle, since it makes it possible to use spent fuel and depleted uranium with a small amount of plutonium added.
The choice of the layout of the core with a change in its size as well as the size of the reproduction zones was done. MOX fuel with an isotopic plutonium composition corresponding to that discharged from the VVER-1000 reactor was considered as fuel.
For the selected layout, a study was made of the system characteristics of the reactor. Compared with existing light-water reactors, this type of reactor has improved fuel utilization efficiency due to increased thermal efficiency, as well as the breeding ratio up to 1 and above.
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