The potential use of 241Am as proliferation resistant burnable poison in PWRs

Yigal Ronen, Leonid Golyand, Eugene Shwageraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This paper discusses the use of 241Am as proliferation resistant burnable poison for light water reactors. Homogeneous addition of small (as little as 0.12%) amounts of 241Am to the conventional light water reactor fuel results in significant increase in 238Pu/Pu ratio in the discharged fuel improving its proliferation resistance. Moreover, 241Am, admixed to the fuel, acts as burnable absorber allowing for substantial reduction in conventional reactivity control means without a notable fuel cycle length penalty. This is possible due to favorable characteristics of 241Am transmutation chain. The fuel cycle length penalty of introducing 241Am into the core is evaluated and discussed, as well as the impact of He production in the fuel pins and degradation of reactivity feedback coefficients. Proliferation resistance and reactivity control features related to the use of 241Am are compared to those of using 237Np, which has also been suggested as an additive to the conventional fuel in order to improve its proliferation resistance. It was found that 241Am admixture is more favorable than 237Np admixture because of the smaller fuel cycle length penalty and higher burnable poison savings. Addition of either 237Np or 241Am would provide substantial but not ultimate protection from misuse of Pu originating in the spent fuel from the commercial power reactors. Therefore, the benefits from application of the concept would have to be carefully evaluated against the additional costs and proliferation risks associated with manufacturing of 237Np or 241Am doped fuel. Although this work concerns specifically with PWRs, the conclusions could also be applied to BWRs and, to some extent, to other thermal spectrum reactor types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Nuclear Energy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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