Parametric studies have been performed on a seed-blanket Th-233U fuel configuration in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) with boiling channels to achieve high conversion ratio. Previous studies on seed-blanket concepts suggested substantial reduction in the core power density is needed in order to operate under nominal PWR system conditions. Boiling flow regime in the seed region allows more heat to be removed for a given coolant mass flow rate, which in turn, may potentially allow increasing the power density of the core. In addition, reduced moderation improves the breeding performance. A two-dimensional design optimization study was carried out with BOXER and SERPENT codes in order to determine the most attractive fuel assembly configuration that would ensure breeding. Effects of various parameters, such as void fraction, blanket fuel form, number of seed pins and their dimensions, on the conversion ratio were examined. The obtained results, for which the power density was set to be 104 W/cm3, created a map of potentially feasible designs. It was found that several options have the potential to achieve end of life fissile inventory ratio above unity, which implies potential feasibility of a self-sustainable Thorium fuel cycle in PWRs without significant reduction in the core power density. Finally, a preliminary three-dimensional coupled neutronic and thermal-hydraulic analysis for a single seed-blanket fuel assembly was performed. The results indicate that axial void distribution changes drastically with burnup. Therefore, some means of maintaining the desired power to flow ratio in the seed channel throughout its burnup will be required through a combination of mechanical flow restrictions and sophisticated fuel management.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Materials Science (all)
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Mechanical Engineering