Advanced Vented Fuel Concept for Deep Burn Reactors
New fuel forms are required to enable gas-cooled fast fission reactors to operate using an oncethrough deep-burn fuel cycle. The new reactors will have a core life of 30 years and burn the plutonium-239 created in the core as well as other transuranics. Deep burn rapidly and effectively reduces the inventory of transuranics from spent fuel without the need for repeated recycles, destroys any weapons-usable materials contained in spent fuel, and precludes the possible weapons-related use of the residuals, therefore minimizing proliferation risk. Such cores are only fueled before startup and limit the generated radioactive waste to fission products only. To realize this technology a vented, high temperature fuel form is required for long-term, deep burn applications. Ultramet and Sandia National Laboratories previously developed a high temperature tricarbide foam fuel ideal for gas-cooled reactor applications. An important attribute of the patented foam fuel is the presence of an interconnected hollow ligament structure that can be exploited in the proposed project for fission product removal and venting. Commercial applications and other benefits: Deep breed/burn, modular fission reactors efficiently utilize the energy content of low enriched uranium fuels. Nuclear fission continues to be a viable replacement for increasingly scarce fossil fuel energy sources. Alternatives to fossil fuels (e.g. wind, solar, geothermal) cannot generate sufficient energy to meet current needs. Fission is ideal for large-scale energy generation and releases no greenhouse gases to the environment.
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