Thorium fuel cycles with externally driven systems

Nicholas R. Brown, Jeffrey J. Powers, Michael Todosow, Massimiliano Fratoni, Hans Ludewig, Eva E. Sunny, Gilad Raitses, Arnold Aronson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    8 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Externally driven subcritical systems are closely associated with thorium, partially because thorium has no naturally occurring fissile isotopes. Both accelerator-driven systems (ADSs) and fusion-driven systems have been proposed. This paper highlights key literature related to the use of thorium in externally driven systems (EDSs) and builds upon this foundation to identify potential roles for EDSs in thorium fuel cycles. In fuel cycles with natural thorium feed and no enrichment, the potential roles are (1) a once-through breed-and-burn fuel cycle and (2) a fissile breeder (mainly 233U) to support a fleet of critical reactors. If enriched uranium is used in the fuel cycle in addition to thorium, EDSs may be used to burn transuranic material. These fuel cycles were evaluated in the recently completed U.S. Department of Energy Evaluation and Screening of nuclear fuel cycle options relative to the current once-through commercial nuclear fuel cycle in the United States. The evaluation was performed with respect to nine specified high-level criteria, such as waste management and resource utilization. Each of these fuel cycles presents significant potential benefits per unit energy generation compared to the present once-through uranium fuel cycle. A parametric study indicates that fusion-fission-hybrid systems perform better than ADSs in some missions due to a higher neutron source relative to the energy required to produce it. However, both potential externally driven technology choices face significant development and deployment challenges. In addition, there are significant challenges associated with the use of thorium fuel and with the transition from a uranium-based fuel cycle to a thorium-based fuel cycle.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)233-251
    Number of pages19
    JournalNuclear Technology
    Volume194
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 2016

    Fingerprint

    Thorium
    thorium
    cycles
    Uranium
    uranium
    Nuclear fuels
    nuclear fuels
    Particle accelerators
    Fusion reactions
    accelerators
    fusion
    waste management
    Neutron sources
    evaluation
    Waste management
    Hybrid systems
    neutron sources
    Isotopes
    Screening
    fission

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
    • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
    • Condensed Matter Physics

    Cite this

    Brown, N. R., Powers, J. J., Todosow, M., Fratoni, M., Ludewig, H., Sunny, E. E., ... Aronson, A. (2016). Thorium fuel cycles with externally driven systems. Nuclear Technology, 194(2), 233-251. https://doi.org/10.13182/NT15-40
    Brown, Nicholas R. ; Powers, Jeffrey J. ; Todosow, Michael ; Fratoni, Massimiliano ; Ludewig, Hans ; Sunny, Eva E. ; Raitses, Gilad ; Aronson, Arnold. / Thorium fuel cycles with externally driven systems. In: Nuclear Technology. 2016 ; Vol. 194, No. 2. pp. 233-251.
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    abstract = "Externally driven subcritical systems are closely associated with thorium, partially because thorium has no naturally occurring fissile isotopes. Both accelerator-driven systems (ADSs) and fusion-driven systems have been proposed. This paper highlights key literature related to the use of thorium in externally driven systems (EDSs) and builds upon this foundation to identify potential roles for EDSs in thorium fuel cycles. In fuel cycles with natural thorium feed and no enrichment, the potential roles are (1) a once-through breed-and-burn fuel cycle and (2) a fissile breeder (mainly 233U) to support a fleet of critical reactors. If enriched uranium is used in the fuel cycle in addition to thorium, EDSs may be used to burn transuranic material. These fuel cycles were evaluated in the recently completed U.S. Department of Energy Evaluation and Screening of nuclear fuel cycle options relative to the current once-through commercial nuclear fuel cycle in the United States. The evaluation was performed with respect to nine specified high-level criteria, such as waste management and resource utilization. Each of these fuel cycles presents significant potential benefits per unit energy generation compared to the present once-through uranium fuel cycle. A parametric study indicates that fusion-fission-hybrid systems perform better than ADSs in some missions due to a higher neutron source relative to the energy required to produce it. However, both potential externally driven technology choices face significant development and deployment challenges. In addition, there are significant challenges associated with the use of thorium fuel and with the transition from a uranium-based fuel cycle to a thorium-based fuel cycle.",
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    Brown, NR, Powers, JJ, Todosow, M, Fratoni, M, Ludewig, H, Sunny, EE, Raitses, G & Aronson, A 2016, 'Thorium fuel cycles with externally driven systems', Nuclear Technology, vol. 194, no. 2, pp. 233-251. https://doi.org/10.13182/NT15-40

    Thorium fuel cycles with externally driven systems. / Brown, Nicholas R.; Powers, Jeffrey J.; Todosow, Michael; Fratoni, Massimiliano; Ludewig, Hans; Sunny, Eva E.; Raitses, Gilad; Aronson, Arnold.

    In: Nuclear Technology, Vol. 194, No. 2, 05.2016, p. 233-251.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    Brown NR, Powers JJ, Todosow M, Fratoni M, Ludewig H, Sunny EE et al. Thorium fuel cycles with externally driven systems. Nuclear Technology. 2016 May;194(2):233-251. https://doi.org/10.13182/NT15-40