Flexible conversion ratio fast reactors: Overview

Neil E. Todreas, Pavel Hejzlar, Anna Nikiforova, Robert Petroski, Eugene Shwageraus, C. J. Fong, Michael J. Driscoll, M. A. Elliott, George Apostolakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Conceptual designs of lead-cooled and liquid salt-cooled fast flexible conversion ratio reactors were developed. The performance achievable by the unity conversion ratio cores of these reactors was compared to an existing supercritical carbon dioxide-cooled (S-CO2) fast reactor design and an uprated version of an existing sodium-cooled fast reactor. All concepts have cores rated at 2400 MWt. The cores of the liquid-cooled reactors are placed in a large-pool-type vessel with dual-free level, which also contains four intermediate heat exchangers (IHXs) coupling a primary coolant to a compact and efficient supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle power conversion system. The S-CO2 reactor is directly coupled to the S-CO2 Brayton cycle power conversion system. Decay heat is removed passively using an enhanced reactor vessel auxiliary cooling system (RVACS) and a passive secondary auxiliary cooling system (PSACS). The selection of the water-cooled versus air-cooled heat sink for the PSACS as well as the analysis of the probability that the PSACS may fail to complete its mission was performed using risk-informed methodology. In addition to these features, all reactors were designed to be self-controllable. Further, the liquid-cooled reactors utilized common passive decay heat removal systems whereas the S-CO2 uses reliable battery powered blowers for post-LOCA decay heat removal to provide flow in well defined regimes and to accommodate inadvertent bypass flows. The multiple design limits and challenges which constrained the execution of the four fast reactor concepts are elaborated. These include principally neutronics and materials challenges. The neutronic challenges are the large positive coolant reactivity feedback, small fuel temperature coefficient, small effective delayed neutron fraction, large reactivity swing and the transition between different conversion ratio cores. The burnup, temperature and fluence constraints on fuels, cladding and vessel materials are elaborated for three categories of material - materials currently available, available on a relatively short time scale and available only with significant development effort. The selected fuels are the metallic U-TRU-Zr (10% Zr) for unity conversion ratio and TRU-Zr (75% Zr) for zero conversion ratio. The principal selected cladding and vessel materials are HT-9 and A533 or A508, respectively, for current availability, T-91 and 9Cr-1Mo steel for relatively short-term availability and oxide dispersion strengthened ferritic steel (ODS) available only with significant development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2582-2595
Number of pages14
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Mechanical Engineering


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