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Project Summary

The objective of the proposal is based on the outcome of the FP6 CA PATEROS and the Strategic Research Agenda published by the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform to assess more in depth the regional approach to P&T implementation.

The Strategic Research Agenda states in section 2.3.2 “Optimization of natural resources with nuclear waste minimization” three objectives:

  1. Integral management of all the transuranium actinides in a long-term sustained nuclear park.
  2. Integral reduction of the transuranium actinides inventories.
  3. Specific reduction of some minor actinides inventories.

Two generic types of scenarios are identified to achieve these objectives:

  • The single stratum approach with a park of fast neutron spectrum critical reactors as described by scenario 3 of PATEROS.
  • A double strata approach in which the first stratum will be a set of critical reactors dedicated to electricity production using only uranium/plutonium fuel and in which the second stratum is a transuranium (Pu, MA) transmutation scheme based on dedicated fast reactors or accelerator-driven-systems as described by scenario 1 & 2 of PATEROS.

The ARCAS project intends to look at the economical aspects of these scenarios for P&T with the present hypothesis:

  • Limit the MA bearing fuel transport.
  • Limit the MA bearing fuel handling in and between all places such as at the reactor, at the fuel fabrication and at the reprocessing plant.

 The scope of the ARCAS project is to compare the different possible heterogeneous options:

  • Single stratum with heterogeneous option.
  • Double stratum with a critical dedicated burner with heterogeneous option.
  • Double stratum with an ADS.

This project will not compare to the single stratum with homogeneous option.

The outcome of the ARCAS project should help to prepare the decision for 2012 when according to the Strategic Research Agenda a selection of transmutation technology between fast neutron reactors and accelerator-driven-systems needs to be made.

In this project, we would like to assess the cost associated to implementing either ADS’s or dedicated Fast Reactors as minor actinide burning facilities.

The approach is to start from two fixed hypotheses:

  1. We work in the heterogeneous approach and look only at the “burning” stratum.
  2. We assume a certain influx of minor actinide mass per year that needs to be burned.

PATEROS results will be used for the basis of this comparison avoiding numerous extensive scenario studies. Findings and conclusions of previous partitioning and transmutation research will be analyzed and taken into account in this project. These can be found in the final reports of different European projects like "Perspectives and cost of partitioning and transmutation of long-lived radionuclides" [EUR 17485], "Transmutation of long-lived radionuclides by advanced converters" [EUR 16605], "Recycling and transmutation of nuclear waste" [EUR 16750] and more recent in FP6 projects PATEROS [FI6W-036418], RED-IMPACT [FI6W-002408] and IP-EUROTRANS [FI6W-516520]. Also two studies by OECD/NEA can serve as an input for this project: Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Radioactive Waste Management [ISBN 92-64-02485-9] and "Accelerator-Driven-Systens and Fast Reactors in Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycles" [ISBN 92-64-18482-1].

To have a pertinent comparison, TRU (Pu + minor actinide) mass and composition have to be reasonably estimated for a representative region (a number of European countries). For the double stratum case, scenario 2 from PATEROS will be used to assess the ADS or dedicated burners' fractions. For the heterogeneous approach in a single stratum, scenario 3 from PATEROS will be used to assess the number of dedicated MA target assemblies.

The economic impact of both options should be evaluated for both investment cost as well as operational cost but not the needed R&D cost. The project will also consider technological maturity (as for example using the NASA Technological Readiness Level) and how this can be incorporated in the economical analysis. The associated fuel cycle cost will be evaluated. For the double stratum (reactor system + fuel reprocessing plant + dedicated MA-bearing fuel fabrication) one can assume that the units are located near to each other, to limit transportation cost.

A crucial parameter to be established for both reactor systems is the maximal minor actinide (MA) content in a core loading. This maximal MA value is determined by operational safety criteria to be adhered by the dedicated burner. It is well-known that the delayed neutron fraction as well as the Doppler effect significantly decreases with increasing minor actinide content. An evaluation of a number of safety parameters for the systems will give an upper boundary for the minor actinide mass present in the core. Since for the double strata option, only ADS systems were studied in scenario 2 of PATEROS, there is a need to study the equivalent critical systems. These systems are currently being implemented in the COSI scenario code by KIT. This project will profit from this work.

In order to not diversify the work, the project should define a generic and representative system for the ADS approach and the FR approach. For the ADS, one can benefit from the work done in the FP6 IP-EUROTRANS on the EFIT design. For the FR, one could use an SFR or LFR as a starting point. However, the design should be optimized to the task of a dedicated burner. Concerning the FR two options could be envisaged for the core lay-out: driver fuel with blanket or homogeneous mixture.