Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Feasibility Study of a Thermal Spectrum Thorium Breeder Reactor Without Chemical Reprocessing Public Deposited

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  • This thesis presents a feasibility study of a thorium fueled thermal spectrum breeder-burner reactor that operates without chemical reprocessing. Materials were evaluated for their potential as moderators using standard analytical methods. These materials were then used as moderators to evaluate criticality and enrichment in an infinite fuel pin lattice. The criticality and heavy metal mass of the system as a function of burnup were then used to calculate a neutron balance for each case. The neutron balance indicated that there are insufficient neutrons available in an infinite lattice to operate in a breed-and-burn configuration. A core model was developed to confirm the results of the infinite lattice. Design bounds were developed from the lattice investigation, and used by an optimization routine to evaluate reactor cores with one-quarter symmetry. The black-box optimization program, Gnowee, coupled to the neutronics and depletion code, SCALE, was used to facilitate the process. This procedure required the development of an automated core generation tool that could read the output perturbations from Gnowee and translate that into a new input for SCALE, and a tool to read the output of SCALE to inform the objective function and constraints in Gnowee. None of the core configurations operated with breeding while remaining critical. A two-region infinite lattice using annular fuel pins with enriched breeder blankets was used to test alternative fuel swapping schemes. The two-region infinite lattice analysis indicated that fuel in an annular geometry with an enriched blanket could remain critical while breeding in a breeder-burner configuration.
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