Core Design and Deployment Strategy of Heavy Water Cooled Sustainable Thorium Reactor
Our previous studies on water cooled thorium breeder reactor based on matured pressurized water reactor (PWR) plant technology concluded that reduced moderated core by arranging fuel pins in a triangular tight lattice array and using heavy water as coolant is appropriate for achieving better breeding performance and higher burn-up simultaneously [1–6]. One optimum core that produces 3.5 GW thermal energy using Th- 233 U oxide fuel shows a breeding ratio of 1.07 and averaged burn-up of about 80 GWd/t with long cycle length of 1300 days. The moderator to fuel volume ratio is 0.6 and required enrichment of 233 U for the fresh fuel is about 7%. The coolant reactivity coefficient is negative during all cycles despite it being a large scale breeder reactor. In order to introduce this sustainable thorium reactor, three-step deployment scenario, with intermediate transition phase between current light water reactor (LWR) phase and future sustainer phase, is proposed. Both in transition phase and sustainer phase, almost the same core design can be applicable only by changing fissile materials mixed with thorium from plutonium to 233 U with slight modification in the fuel assembly design. Assuming total capacity of 60 GWe in current LWR phase and reprocessing capacity of 800 ton/y with further extensions to 1600 ton/y, all LWRs will be replaced by heavy water cooled thorium reactors within about one century then thorium reactors will be kept operational owing to its potential to sustain fissile fuels while reprocessing all spent fuels until exhaustion of massive thorium resource.
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