Ultra-thin 242mAm fuel elements in nuclear reactors

Y. Ronen, E. Shwageraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is a growing interest in using 242mAm as a nuclear fuel. The advantages of 242mAm as a nuclear fuel derive from the fact that 242mAm has the highest thermal fission cross section. The thermal capture cross section is relatively low and the number of neutrons per thermal fission is high. These nuclear properties make it possible to obtain nuclear criticality with ultra-thin fuel elements. The possibility of having ultra-thin fuel elements enables the use of these fission products directly, without the necessity of converting their energy to heat, as is done in conventional reactors. There are three options of using such highly energetic and highly ionized fission products. 1. Using the fission products themselves for ionic propulsion. 2. Using the fission products in an MHD generator, in order to obtain electricity directly. 3. Using the fission products to heat a gas up to a high temperature for propulsion purposes. In this work, we are not dealing with a specific reactor design, but only calculating the minimal fuel elements' thickness and the energy of the fission products emerging from these fuel elements. It was found that it is possible to design a nuclear reactor with a fuel element of less than 1 μm of 242mAm. In such a fuel element, 90% of the fission products' energy can escape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-451
Number of pages10
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
Volume455
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation

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