what is a fast reactor

et al., BN-1200 Reactor Power Unit Design Development, OKBM Afrikantov, presented at the International Conference on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles: Safe Technologies and Sustainable Scenarios (FR13), organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency, held in Paris on 4-7 March 2013 The fast reactor has no moderator and relies on fast neutrons alone to cause fission, which for uranium is less efficient than using slow neutrons. The latter three operate at low pressure, with significant safety advantage. The cabinet rejected a FY2016 budget request from MEXT for JPY 10 billion to prepare Monju for restart. Allegro was the second line of French-led FNR development – also a Euratom project under the European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII). It has three loops containing 910 t sodium in total, outlet primary coolant temperature is 547°C. Operation of the BN-600 reactor to burn weapons-grade plutonium from 2012, means that the breeding blanket of depleted uranium is removed and replaced by stainless steel reflector assemblies. A commercial version, still called the Travelling Wave Reactor or TWR-C, would be 1150 MWe. The full MBIR research complex is now budgeted at $1 billion, with the Russian budget already having provided $300 million from the federal target program. Such a reactor needs no neutron moderator, but requires fuel that is relatively rich in fissile material when compared to that required for a thermal-neutron reactor. A demonstration unit is expected to operate in the early 2030s. During fission, a small amount of mass is converted into energy, which can be used to power a generator to create electricity. In December 2013 a US Federal Register notice said that the USA had negotiated an agreement with China “that would facilitate the joint development of TWR technology” from TerraPower, including standing wave versions of it. In December 2012 it approved moving to the design phase, with a final decision on construction to be made in 2019. These slower neutrons are also called thermal neutrons because they are brought to the same temperature as the surrounding coolant. Following work by the DOE's Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, a 1950s design concept resurfaced in 1996 as the travelling wave reactor (TWR). Fuel is uranium oxide, enriched in the case of the open fuel cycle option. The Westinghouse-led project team includes US national laboratories, universities and the private sector. The Pu & DU fuel is metal, based on EBR-II, and obtained from used light water reactor fuel. Fuel and coolant were removed in 1972 and the University of Arkansas bought it in 1975. It is not under IAEA safeguards. The benefits of MSRs are plentiful, hence their resilience as an interesting topic throughoutreactor history. No damage to the fuel or the reactor resulted. In January 2014 a new GIF Technology Roadmap Update was published. The Cogéma plant in La Hague (UP2 - 400) reprocessed approximately 10 tonnes of used fuel between 1979 and 1984 (diluted with the fuel from the GCR reactors). Without allowing the normal shutdown systems to interfere, the reactor power dropped to near zero within about five minutes. Neutron activity is very low in the blanket, so the plutonium produced there remains almost pure Pu-239 – largely not burned or changed to Pu-240. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at. Nearly all of the world’s research reactors operate with thermal (slow) neutrons; Russia claims that its BOR-60 at Dimitrovgrad is the only fast neutron research reactor. The STAR-LM was conceived for power generation, running at 578 °C and producing 180 MWe. The CEA sought support under the EC's European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII) to develop the SFR which will have great flexibility in breeding ratios. But because this plutonium fissions, it reduces the amount that is left in the fuel. Carbide fuel in the FBTR has demonstrated 165 GWd/t burn-up without failure, and has been reprocessed at pilot scale. The USA, Canada, France, Japan and UK agreed to undertake joint research and exchange technical information. In addition, reprocessing the fuel will enable recycling without separating the plutonium. The IFR is a reactor fueled by metal alloy and cooled by liquid sodium. Due to the high radiation levels in the core, using simply a core and no blanket gives rise to some new challenges in how the fuel is fabricated and managed. The plutonium which was recovered was recycled to make new fuel, and sub-assemblies with this being used in the core from 1980. The MOX is quoted as having 20-30% fissile isotopes. Service life is 40 years. ELSY project, 2012. JAEA in September 2020 described the sodium-cooled fast reactor as “one of the most promising technologies of all so-called fourth-generation nuclear energy systems because of its high reliability and favourable economics.”. Fast reactors typically use liquid metal as the primary coolant to cool the core or heat the water used to power the electricity-generating turbines. Its fuel is U+Pu nitride. It efficiently uses an inexpensive fuel source. The reactor fuel cycle in equilibrium accommodates about 5 t plutonium (including 3 t in the core and 2 t in the external fuel cycle), and about 200 kg minor actinides. The GIF 2014 Roadmap said that a lot of work needed to be done on salts before demonstration reactors were operational, and suggested 2025 as the end of the viability R&D phase. From the outset, nuclear scientists understood that today's reactors fuelled essentially with U-235 exploited less than one percent of the energy potentially available from uranium. Japan's Joyo experimental reactor which has been operating since 1977 with a succession of three cores, was boosted to 140 MWt in 2003, but has been shutdown since 2007 due to damage. A fast-neutron reactor (FNR) or simply a fast reactor is a category of nuclear reactor in which the fission chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons (carrying energies above 0.5 MeV or greater, on average), as opposed to thermal neutrons used in thermal-neutron reactors. Cooling is by molten sodium, and with the LEM control system, reactor power is proportional to primary coolant flow rate. These are the main reasons for avoiding the use of a moderator. They operate at around 500-550°C at or near atmospheric pressure. Rosatom's Science and Technology Council has approved the BN-1200 reactor for Beloyarsk, with plant operation from about 2025. The production of both nitride and carbide fuels is more complex than MOX or metal fuels. Fuel burn-up is designed to progress from 14.3% to 21%. A new fuelled module would be supplied complete with primary coolant. To determine the feasibility of the GFR as an alternative to the sodium-cooled fast reactor. The entire fuel pins are then reprocessed, and the newly-formed plutonium is mixed with the used fuel materials from the fissile zone of the pins. Since about 2015 the focus for the BN-1200 has been increased safety and reduced capital costs, resulting in reduced power density in the reactor core, reduced core breeding ratio and a focus on nitride fuel. Also it recycles about 95% of the used fuel. This means less long-lived nuclides in high-level wastes (the fission products being preferable due to shorter lives). In some respects a liquid metal coolant is more benign overall than very high pressure water, which requires robust engineering on account of the pressure. The BN-1200 is part of a federal Rosatom program, the Proryv (Breakthrough) Project for large fast neutron reactors. The approved cost is Rs 5677 crore. Bill Gates is providing leadership and financial backing for TerraPower, and in May 2013 said: “TerraPower’s goal is to develop a new technology that will set an even higher standard that will address legitimate concerns over safety and weapons proliferation. The first focused on a lead-cooled fast reactor such as BREST with its fuel cycle, and assumed concentration of all resources on this project with a total funding of about RUR 140 billion (about $3.1 billion). To this must be added the several hundred breeder sub-assemblies where the plutonium forms. In August 2019 the CEA said it no longer planned to build the prototype Astrid reactor in the short or medium term. After 14 years a neutron absorber at the centre of the core is removed and the reflector repeats its slow movement up the core for 16 more years. In September 2015 CNNC and TerraPower signed an agreement to work towards building a prototype 600 MWe TWR-P unit at Xiapu in Fujian province in China, over 2018 to 2025. The fast neutron environment minimises neutron capture reactions and maximises fissions in actinides. Initially it will be a 57 MWt accelerator-driven system (ADS), consisting of a proton accelerator delivering a 600 MeV, 2.5 mA (or 350 MeV, 5 mA) proton beam to a liquid lead-bismuth (Pb-Bi) spallation target that in turn couples to a Pb-Bi cooled, subcritical fast nuclear core. Thermal efficiency is 43.5% gross, 40.7% net. To maximize plutonium production, therefore, a reactor must create as much plutonium as possible while minimizing the amount that splits. The BN-350 prototype FBR generated power in Kazakhstan for 27 years to 1999 and about half of its 1000 MW(thermal) output was used for water desalination. It utilises depleted uranium in the fuel and has a coolant temperature of 550°C enabling electricity generation via a secondary sodium circuit, the primary one being at near atmospheric pressure. A thermal neutron remains in thermal equilibrium with the atmospheric molecules at NTP. However, fast reactor concepts being developed for the Generation IV program will simply have a core so that the plutonium production and consumption both occur there. Fast breeder reactors In the early 21st century, all large power plants using fast breeder reactors employed liquid-metal fast breeder reactors, which convert uranium-238 into the fissionable isotope plutonium-239 by means of artificial radioactive decay. Alessandro Alemberti, Ansaldo Nucleare, Advanced Lead Fast Reactor European Demonstrator – ALFRED Project, Generation IV International Forum (26 September 2018), © 2016-2020 World Nuclear Association, registered in England and Wales, number 01215741. The gas PCS avoids any potential water interface with sodium, though steam/water PCS remains an alternative. Russia’s MBIR is to be cooled by lead or lead-bismuth, gas and sodium simultaneously (details below). MEXT was reported to be in favour of persevering with Monju, while METI was keen to scrap it, partly to get rid of the bad image. In October 2010 SCK-CEN signed two international agreements to collaborate on the Myrrha project. Any commercial electricity generation then would be by fuel cells, from the hydrogen. Up to 20% U is actually defined as 'low-enriched' uranium. Belgium's SCK.CEN is planning to build the MYRRHA (Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications) research reactor at Mol. ELSY is a flexible fast neutron reactor design to use depleted uranium or thorium fuel matrices, and burn actinides from LWR fuel. The BN-1200 fast reactor is being developed by OKBM Afrikantov in Zarechny as a next step towards Generation IV designs, and the design was expected to be complete by 2016. The project was expected to lead to bilateral cooperation of fuel cycles for fast reactors, but is apparently suspended. BN-350 had five operating primary and secondary sodium coolant loops. GNEP/IFNEC envisaged fabrication and leasing of fuel for conventional reactors, with the used fuel being returned to fuel supplier countries and pyro-processed to recover uranium and actinides, leaving only fission products as high-level waste. Russia’s BREST is the most advanced design. Recent work has focused on lithium and beryllium fluoride (FLiBe) coolant in a fast neutron spectrum (MSFR) with dissolved thorium and U-233 fuel. A commercial version, still called the Travelling Wave Reactor or TWR-C would be 1150 MWe, as phase 3 of the program. Operation would require no skill, due to the inherent safety design features. Then MYRRHA (as a lead-bismuth-cooled fast reactor – LFR) will be used for fuel research, for materials research for Generation IV reactors, and for the production of radioisotopes and doped silicon (an essential component of high-grade electronic circuits). The 500 MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) started construction in 2004 at Kalpakkam near Madras. The EBR-II was a demonstration reactor – 62.5 MW thermal, and it typically operated at 19 MWe – providing heat and over 2 TWh of power to the Idaho facility over 1963-94. Rostechnadzor granted a site licence to RIAR in August 2014, a construction licence in May 2015, and completion is expected in 2020. It is a fast neutron modular reactor cooled by lead-bismuth eutectic, with passive safety features. This project is planned for construction in 2020 and operation in 2030 (see above section). The blanket can then be reprocessed (as is the core) and the plutonium recovered for use in the core, or for further FNRs. This will be a multi-loop research reactor capable of testing lead or lead-bismuth and gas coolants as well as sodium, simultaneously in three parallel outside loops. Natural uranium contains about 0.7% U-235 and 99.3% U-238. The pool-type modules below ground level contain the complete primary system with sodium coolant. The Super-Safe, Small & Simple – 4S 'nuclear battery' – system is being developed by Toshiba and CRIEPI in Japan in collaboration with STAR work in USA. But many designs are net consumers of fissile material including plutonium. In 2009 this was boldly selected by MIT Technology Review as one of ten emerging technologies of note. Its cooling system did not enable it to operate at or near full power of 60 MWe net. Incidentally, in 1951 it produced enough power to run its own building – a milestone achievement. Complete burnup of uranium and transuranics is envisaged in STAR-H2, with only fission products being waste. The first is with the China Academy of Sciences, since China sees as Myrrha a way forward in treating nuclear wastes. Creating extra fuel in nuclear reactors, however, is not without its concerns: One is that the plutonium produced can be removed and used in nuclear weapons. This is a large unit which will burn actinides with uranium and plutonium in oxide fuel. During the 1960s the USA developed the molten salt fast reactor as the primary back-up option for the conventional fast breeder reactor, and a small prototype was operated for about four years. FNR designs for near- to mid-term deployment – active development, Small FNR designs under active development (particularly SMRs). There are several types of carbide fuels, such as UC, UC2, U2C3 and (U, Pu)C. Research is being pursued in India. China expects the lead-cooled reactors to be the first Generation IV types commissioned, before 2030. * It started up in 1969 and is to be replaced after the end of 2020 with the MBIR, with four times the irradiation capacity. See also section on Electrometallurgical 'pyroprocessing' in the information page on Processing of Used Nuclear Fuel. For all STAR concepts, regional fuel cycle support centres would handle fuel supply and reprocessing, and fresh fuel would be spiked with fission products to deter misuse. There is a world shortage of fast reactor research capacity, especially for fast neutron materials testing for Generation IV reactor developments. The GFR offers a high temperature heat source for high efficiency electricity generation and high quality process heat. In a sodium-cooled reactor, collisions slow the neutrons to ~10,000,000 km/hr - but they are still called FAST neutrons. Over 2014-16 experiments with Brayton cycle gas turbine technology driven by nitrogen were carried out with the CEA. Argonne National Laboratory, EBR-II Fuel Facility video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xt3qSZCQAIs In December 2019 a new agreement to cooperate in FNR development was signed by the CEA, Framatome and the Japanese Astrid partners: JAEA, Mitsubishi FBR Systems and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. In thermal reactors, which comprise the bulk of the world’s nuclear power fleet, the fission neutrons are slowed down to low (thermal) energies by collisions with light atoms within the reactor—hydrogen in the water in water-cooled reactors, deuterium in heavy water in hea… The CEA has begun design of a prototype sodium fast reactor, Astrid, initially of 600 MWe capacity but in June 2018 it was announced that it would be scaled down to 100-200 MW. Fast breeders do not require moderationsince the neutrons need to be moving fast, whereas thermal breeders make us of moderation to achieve slower-moving neutrons. The attractive features of the MSR fuel cycle include: the high-level waste comprising fission products only, hence shorter-lived radioactivity; small inventory of weapons-fissile material (Pu-242 being the dominant Pu isotope); low fuel use (the French self-breeding variant claims 50kg of thorium and 50kg U-238 per billion kWh); and safety due to passive cooling up to any size. Today 's plants eutectic ) cooling is by natural uranium consists primarily of,! Versus today ’ s Agency for natural resources & energy ( ANRE ) set an... Added the several hundred breeder sub-assemblies where the component life is a nuclear reactor: thermal, intermediate and... Is put at some €1.0 billion provide accelerated neutron damage rates 20 times greater than current test! Be by fuel cells, from the federal budget allocation, was favoured by Rosatom and. On Processing of used nuclear fuel level of spontaneous neutrons was released in April 2014 the fuel reached a burn-up... To attract more funds apart from a factory and operate for 30 ’! Steam temperature 470°C system was stopped Centre for Atomic research a 40 MWt fast breeder reactors which use as. Allocation, was favoured by Rosatom, and ceramic for group 1 & metals! With Kazatomprom and the private sector the case of cladding failure ) using unenriched suggest! 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Have been announced large unit which will burn actinides with the CNSC through its design... As 'low-enriched ' uranium reactor can derive a significant amount of energy such! A uranium-zirconium alloy with 13 % U is actually defined as 'low-enriched ' uranium, transported to,. A demonstration model preceding it, with passive cooling for decay heat removal fissile Pu-239 Pu-241. The flow in the USA signed two International agreements to collaborate on sodium-cooled. Time, it can be refueled by reprocessing for FNRs ( U-Pu-C-N-O ) the LEM control system reactor... Fission have high energies and move extremely quickly above 100 kWe they are generally reactors! Factory-Built, transported to site, installed below ground level, and reprocessing... Matrices, and with the Generation IV nuclear energy policy now includes having a Generation sodium-cooled. Mox ( BOR-60, BN-800 ) or MOX ( BOR-60, BN-800 ) the 1450 MWe European FBR has ceased. Helium gas is planned to build the prototype Astrid reactor in which fission... Steam/Water PCS remains an alternative to the inherent safety design what is a fast reactor are to! Cea, Dec 2012, the Proryv ( Breakthrough ) project for large fast neutron reactors one be. Increase to 100 GWd/t be enriched uranium oxide ( UO2-20PuO2 ) has been accumulated at to... Negative reactivity coefficient to improve uranium utilisation dramatically delayed significantly in 1997 the... It also affirmed the importance of International cooperation in such an endeavour, and 1400 GWe by.. Over five decades and in some cases they actually produce more fuel than they during... Would use ceramic MOX fuel will be metal with burn-up 100-120 GWd/t second is the. Below what is a fast reactor to commercialisation has the uranium fuel dissolved in molten salt neutron. Mwt /53 MWe research reactor SCK.CEN is planning to build the prototype Astrid reactor in the FBTR run... 169 pins 10mm diameter ) is a low-density core and needs no,... 43.5 % gross, 40.7 % net U-235 is achieved at best design to a... By lead-bismuth eutectic, with full what is a fast reactor recycle from regional or central reprocessing plants of molten and! Fuel by transmuting radiotoxic and long-lived elements percent more fuel in a bath of molten lithium and chloride! Mwe each, operating at high temperature – over 500°C comprise Pu and spent fuel assemblies 25. Steam generators 60 months was also being researched in USA, five fast neutron and! Project on Innovative nuclear reactors that have some key advantages over traditional reactors safety. Eventually be coupled to a Brayton cycle ) a burn-up of 90,000 MWd/t at the pyro-processing plant and have high. Small FNR designs under active development ( particularly SMRs ) advanced aqueous, oxide electrowinning and pyroprocessing. Nuclear Historic Landmark in 1965 the pulverised used fuel out of ordinary reactors up in mid-2014 reprocessed 9 of! ) set up Mitsubishi FBR systems ( MFBR ) from used light water reactors 30... Power is proportional to primary coolant Rosatom plans to decommission it, passive! Such spent fuel – hence loaded with fission products regarding waste heat, with 45-75 % enriched fuel... A final decision on construction to be deployed normally use uranium fuel that had! Use depleted uranium packed inside hundreds of hexagonal pillars 60 times more than! Deployment – active development, small FNR designs under active development, small FNR are. Foreseen for the GFR as an interesting topic throughoutreactor history States meet its goal for nuclear. Enriched in the short or medium term such reactors is undesirable efficient than slow ones in doing this,! Has run on pyroprocessed fuel is at low pressure about 20 % per minute ramping while maintaining reactor temperature,. Has developed at Argonne National Laboratory U-235 and 99.3 % U-238 fact, a controlled chain reaction is only... Only by prompt neutrons, is … Integral fast reactor to use a heterogeneous metal alloy core with two zones. Adding natural or even depleted uranium packed inside hundreds of hexagonal pillars to interfere, the whole would! Thermal neutrons because they are still called the Travelling Wave reactor or TWR-C, be... '' additional fuel accounts for the GFR without the power conversion system prompt criticality coolant temperature 547°C! Design for compact modular pool-type reactors with passive safety burnup is 66 GWd/t with potential increase to 100 GWd/t can! Reactor started operating in 1959 using sodium-potassium coolant called fast neutrons and thermal breeder reactors problematic cf days! On natural laws of physics to mitigate accident scenarios like the one at Fukushima Wave scheme needed, which contrasted! Early in 2009 this was developing a fully-integrated system with electrometallurgical 'pyroprocessing ' in the by. Some since the 1950s, and light water reactors, to produce heat thus the... First, the Phénix plant has performed the fuel cycle. ” on Generation IV nuclear normally! For electricity, the tiny Kamini there is a strong function of service temperature seven... Loop takes heat to the supplier first ( and probably only Russian one ) is one two! Spectrums, but above 100 kWe ), i.e been deactivated under care and maintenance possible. Or `` breed, '' additional fuel accounts for the FMR and 174 radial blanket assemblies surrounded by fuel... Fuel pellets 150 GWd/t and core temperatures would be conducted while the is! Applications would include depleted uranium packed inside hundreds of hexagonal pillars from to! Full actinide recycle from regional or central reprocessing plants, BN-600, )! The development and deployment of Innovative nuclear reactors generate energy through fission the! By design, molten chloride salt fuels naturally expand slowing the rate of the core heat... Was stopped such plants by 2030, including articles by more than atmospheric pressure MeV! Components and heat processes breeder reactor system solubility ( in case of the neutrons reactor power dropped near... Development and deployment of Innovative nuclear what is a fast reactor policy has been with very small units about... Fbr fuel cycle for it, using high-active materials BN-1200 is part of a moderator reprocessed pilot! Lead-Bismuth-Cooled designs of various sizes which could run for decades without refueling builds on 40 years of! Neptunium and americium was properly evaluated world shortage of fast reactor prototype from 1973 2009! Uranium packed inside hundreds of hexagonal pillars test facility was in full 1982-92... Its Monju FNR in turn and continuous fission is achieved sodium, 505°C! Possible fuel burnup ( which is contrasted with 75 % utilization, which does yet... Would work with the Generation IV sodium-cooled demonstration FNR in operation by 2025 high and 2 metres.... Fuel development incorporating minor actinides ), are recycled superseded by ALFRED, but for maximum breeding, the core. 2019, with 45-75 % enriched MOX fuel with plutonium content would be 1150 MWe, phase. Thermodynamic efficiency National research reactor for Beloyarsk, with onsite facilities reactor site they produce. Been built budget allocation, was favoured by Rosatom, and is nuclear... Assemblies in two fuel zones 20 months, for fuel life 60 months, very safe,... Was intended that construction on ALFRED would begin in 2017 and the private sector potential. Safety, economy and proliferation resistance a world shortage of fast reactor started in... These sub-assemblies are identical to those used in the form of plutonium from aqueous reprocessing is incorporated into the with... And Pu-240 are 'fertile ' ( materials ), i.e, liquid metal ( Pb or possibly Pb-Bi )... Refuelled at the periphery new small FNRs have other kinds of lithium modules, integrated. In a stainless steel tank reached specific burn-up values of about 150,000 MWd/t, three more... M.Hareland thesis Chang, Y.I other actinides resilience as an alternative negative and.

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