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Neutronic study of the mono-recycling of americum in PWR and of the core conversion INMNSR using the MURE code

Abstract : The MURE code is based on the coupling of a Monte Carlo static code and the calculation of the evolution of the fuel during irradiation and cooling periods. The MURE code has been used to analyse two different questions, concerning the mono-recycling of Am in present French Pressurized Water Reactor, and the conversion of high enriched uranium (HEU) used in the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor in Ghana into low enriched uranium (LEU) due to proliferation resistance issues. In both cases, a detailed comparison is made on burnup and the induced radiotoxicity of waste or spent fuel. The UOX fuel assembly, as in the open cycle system, was designed to reach a burn-up of 46GWd/T and 68GWd/T. The spent UOX was reprocessed to fabricate MOX assemblies, by the extraction of Plutonium and addition of depleted Uranium to reach burn-ups of 46GWd/T and 68GWd/T, taking into account various cooling times of the spent UOX assembly in the repository. The effect of cooling time on burnup and radiotoxicity was then ascertained. Spent UOX fuel, after 30 years of cooling in the repository required higher concentration of Pu to be reprocessed into a MOX fuel due to the decay of Pu-241. Americium, with a mean half-life of 432 years, has high radiotoxic level, high mid-term residual heat and a precursor for other long lived isotope. An innovative strategy consists of reprocessing not only the plutonium from the UOX spent fuel but also the americium isotopes which dominate the radiotoxicity of present waste. The mono-recycling of Am is not a definitive solution because the once-through MOX cycle transmutation of Am in a PWR is not enough to destroy all the Am. The main objective is to propose a “waiting strategy” for both Am and Pu in the spent fuel so that they can be made available for further transmutation strategies. The MOXAm (MOX and Americium isotopes) fuel was fabricated to see the effect of americium in MOX fuel on the burn-up, neutronic behavior and on radiotoxicity. The MOXAm fuel showed relatively good indicators both on burnup and on radiotoxicity. A 68GWd/T MOX assembly produced from a reprocessed spent 46GWd/T UOX assembly showed a decrease in radiotoxicity as compared to the open cycle. All fuel types understudy in the PWR cycle showed good safety inherent feature with the exception of the some MOXAm assemblies which have a positive void coefficient in specific configurations, which could not be consistent with safety features. The core lifetimes of the current operating 90.2% HEU UAl fuel and the proposed 12.5% LEU UOX fuel of the MNSR were investigated using MURE code. Even though LEU core has a longer core life due to its higher core loading and low rate of uranium consumption, the LEU core will have it first beryllium top up to compensate for reactivity at earlier time than the HEU core. The HEU and LEU cores of the MNSR exhibited similar neutron fluxes in irradiation channels, negative feedback of temperature and void coefficients, but the LEU is more radiotoxic after fission product decay due to higher actinides presence at the end of its core lifetime.
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Robert Sogbadji. Neutronic study of the mono-recycling of americum in PWR and of the core conversion INMNSR using the MURE code. Other [cond-mat.other]. Université Paris Sud - Paris XI; University of Ghana, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012PA112130⟩. ⟨tel-00843688⟩

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