Analysis of strategies for improving uranium utilization in pressurized water reactors
Author(s)Sefcik, Joseph A.; Driscoll Michael J.; Lanning David D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Energy Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Engineering
United States. Department of Energy. Division of Energy Technology
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Systematic procedures have been devised and applied to evaluate core design and fuel management strategies for improving uranium utilization in Pressurized Water Reactors operated on a once-through fuel cycle. A principal objective has been the evaluation of suggested improvements on a self-consistent basis, allowing for concurrent changes in dependent variables such as core leakage and batch power histories, which might otherwise obscure the sometimes subtle effects of interest. Two levels of evaluation have been devised: a simple but accurate analytic model based on the observed linear variations in assembly reactivity as a function of burnup; and a numerical approach, embodied in a computer program, which relaxes this assumption and combines it with empirical prescriptions for assembly (or batch) power as a function of reactivity, and core leakage as a function of peripheral assembly power. State-of-the-art physics methods, such as PDQ-7, were used ! to verify and supplement these techniques.These methods have been applied to evaluate several suggested improvements: (1) axial blankets of low-enriched or depleted uranium, and of beryllium metal, (2) radial natural uranium blankets, (3) low-leakage radial fuel management, (4) high burnup fuels, (5) optimized H/U atom ratio, (6) annular fuel, and (7) mechanical spectral shift (i.e. variable fuel-to-moderator ratio) concepts such as those involving pin pulling and bundle reconstitution.The potential savings in uranium requirements compared to current practice were found to be as follows: (1) O0-3%, (2) negative, (3) 2-3%; possibly 5%, (4) "15%, (5) 0-2.5%, (6) no inherent advantage, (7) 10%. Total savings should not be assumed to be additive; and thermal/hydraulic or mechanical design restrictions may preclude full realization of some of the potential improvements.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 238-241)
Cambridge, Mass. : Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Energy Laboratory, 1981
Energy Laboratory report (Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Energy Laboratory) ; no. MIT-EL 80-032MITNE ; no. 234