Advanced micro-reactor concepts

Peakman, Aiden ORCID: 0000-0002-1109-4781, Hodgson, Zara and Merk, Bruno
(2018) Advanced micro-reactor concepts. PROGRESS IN NUCLEAR ENERGY, 107. pp. 61-70.

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Nuclear power systems capable of outputting low powers (<100 MWth) are increasingly receiving interest internationally for deployment not only as electricity production systems, capable of operating off-grid, but also as systems able to provide industrial process heat. These ‘micro-reactor’ concepts must demonstrate economic competitiveness with other potential solutions capable of providing similar power outputs. With this in mind, reactor technologies that offer inherent advantages associated with improved power density and simplified operation, both of which are important attributes that determine economic competitiveness, are reviewed in the context of the fundamental safety functions provided by the IAEA. The reactor technology chosen based on the results of the review were: low vapour pressure coolants like molten salt or liquid metal; solid moderator material; and conventional solid UO2 fuel. Initial infinite lattice neutronic studies indicated a series of positive reactivity coefficients. A finite system was also modelled using a molten salt as the coolant. When modelling the finite system the coolant temperature reactivity coefficient became negative, the void coefficient strongly negative and moderator temperature coefficient negative to weakly positive. Given that a number of reactivity coefficients were negative to strongly negative in the finite system, the weakly positive moderator temperature coefficient is not thought to be prohibitive. Thus the design should exhibit acceptable safety performance. Whilst the importance of leakage in fast reactor cores is well known, a key outcome from this study is the strong influence of leakage on all safety related parameters for the thermal reactor designs considered here with solid moderator material. Thus it seems that safety studies for such small cores should be based on full core calculations instead of the traditional infinite lattice studies for fuel assemblies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Micro-reactors, Process heat, Nuclear reactors, SMR, Yttrium hydride
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2018 06:18
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 01:31
DOI: 10.1016/j.pnucene.2018.02.025
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