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Simulation tools and new developments of the molten salt fast reactor

Abstract : The CNRS has been involved in molten salt reactors since 1997. Starting from the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor project of Oak-Ridge, an innovative concept called Molten Salt Fast Reactor or MSFR has been proposed, resulting from extensive parametric studies in which various core arrangements, reprocessing performances and salt compositions were investigated to adapt the reactor in the framework of the deployment of a thorium based reactor fleet on a worldwide scale. The primary feature of the MSFR concept is the removal of the graphite moderator from the core (graphite-free core), resulting in a breeder reactor with a fast neutron spectrum and operated in the Thorium fuel cycle. MSFR has been recognized as a long term alternative to solid fuelled fast neutron systems with unique potential (negative safety coefficients, smaller fissile inventory, easy in-service inspection, simplified fuel cycle…) and has thus been selected for further studies by the Generation IV International Forum in 2008. In the MSFR, the liquid fuel processing is part of the reactor where a small side stream of the molten salt is processed for fission product removal and then returned to the reactor. This is fundamentally different from a solid fuel reactor where separate facilities produce the solid fuel and process the Spent Nuclear Fuel. Because of this design characteristic, the MSFR can thus operate with widely varying fuel composition. Thanks to this fuel composition flexibility, the MSFR concept may use as initial fissile load, 233U or enriched (between 5% and 30%) uranium or also the transuranic elements currently produced by PWRs in the world. Our reactor’s studies of the MSFR concept rely on numerical simulations making use of the MCNP neutron transport code coupled with a code for materials evolution which resolves the Bateman’s equations giving the population of each nucleus inside each part of the reactor at each moment. Because of MSR’s fundamental characteristics compared to classical solid-fuelled reactors, the classical Bateman equations have to be modified by adding two terms representing the reprocessing efficiencies and the fertile or fissile alimentation. We have finally coupled neutronic and reprocessing simulation codes in a numerical tool develop to calculate the evolution of the whole MSFR system. This tool is used to evaluate the extraction capacities of fission products and their location in the whole system (reactor and reprocessing unit), basis of any safety and radioprotection assessment of the reactor
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Submitted on : Monday, January 31, 2011 - 5:34:40 PM
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D. Heuer, E. Merle-Lucotte, M. Allibert, X. Doligez, V. Ghetta. Simulation tools and new developments of the molten salt fast reactor. Revue Generale Nucleaire, Revue Generale de L'electricite S.A., 2010, 6, pp.95-100. ⟨10.1051/rgn/20106095⟩. ⟨in2p3-00561186⟩



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