August 05, 2013

Fast Reactor Status and a two step closed nuclear fuel cycle

the Russians have the most commercial experience with fast neutron reactors. They operated the 600 MWe BN-600 for a few decades.

Fast neutron reactors increase the burnup of fuel up to 15-20% vs 5% with LWS and the used fuel is easier to process and with a liquid pyroprocessing method can enable a closed fuel cycle (100% of fuel used).

The BN-800 fast neutron reactor being built by OKBM Afrikantov at Beloyarsk is designed to supersede the BN-600 unit there and utilise MOX fuel with both reactor-grade and weapons plutonium. It will be 880 MWe gross and have fuel burn-up of 70-100 GWd/t. [normal light water reactors now have about 50 Gigawatts per day per ton of fuel, and new LWR will have about 65 GWd/t and annular /cylinder shaped for better hear management fuel will enable older reactors to have higher burnup] Further BN-800 units were planned. China is buying two BN-800 reactors.

The BN-1200 is being designed by OKBM for operation with MOX fuel from 2020 and dense nitride U-Pu fuel subsequently, in closed fuel cycle. Rosatom plans to submit the BN-1200 to the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) as a Generation IV design. The BN-1200 will produce 2900 MWt (1220 MWe), has a 60-year design life, simplified refuelling, and burn-up of up to 120 GWd/t. Intermediate heat exchanger temperature 550°C, with 527°C in secondary sodium circuit and 510°C outlet at 14 MPa from steam generators. Lead cooling is also a possibility. Thermal efficiency is 42% gross, 39% net. It is expected to have a breeding ratio of 1.2 initially and up to 1.35 for MOX fuel, and then 1.45 for nitride fuel. Fuel burn-up is designed to progress from 14.3% to 21%. It will have 426 fuel assemblies and 174 radial blanket assemblies surrounded by 599 boron shielding assemblies. The capital cost is expected to be much the same as VVER-1200. OKBM envisages about 11 GWe of such plants by 2030, possibly including South Urals NPP. Design is expected to be complete in 2014, and tentative plans are for construction of the first unit at Beloyarsk (unit 5) from 2015 with commercial operation from 2020. A construction decision is due in 2014. It is intended to produce electricity at RUR 0.65/kWh (US 2.23 cents/kWh). This is part of a federal Rosatom program, the Proryv (Breakthrough) Project.

The SVBR-100 could be a very low cost modular fast neutron reactor with 11.4% burnup.

The IAEA has a recent review of trends with fast neutron reactors and fuel cycles (20 pages).

The China CDFR-1000, a 1000 MWe Chinese prototype fast reactor based on the CEFR, is envisaged with construction start in 2017 and commissioning 2023 as the next step in CIAE's program. This is CIAE's 'project one' Chinese Demonstration Fast Reactor (CDFR). With a 40-year design lifetime, it will be a three-loop 2500 MWt pool type, with active and passive shutdown systems and passive decay heat removal. The reactor would use MOX fuel with average 66 GWd/t burn-up, run at 544°C, have breeding ratio 1.2, with 316 core fuel assemblies and 255 blanket ones. This could form the basis of the Chinese Commercial Fast Reactor (CCFR) by 2030, using MOX + actinide or metal + actinide fuel. MOX is seen only as an interim fuel, the target arrangement is metal fuel in closed cycle.

In October 2009, an agreement was signed by CIAE and CNEIC with Russia's Atomstroyexport to start pre-project and design works for a commercial nuclear power plant with two BN-800 reactorsc (see section on Sanming in the information page on Nuclear Power in China). These reactors are referred to by CIAE as 'project 2' Chinese Demonstration Fast Reactors (CDFRs), with construction to start in 2013 and commissioning 2018-19

China's CIAE's CDFR-1000 is expected to be followed by a 1200 MWe China Demonstration Fast Breeder Reactor (CDFBR) by about 2028, conforming to Generation IV criteria. This will have U-Pu-Zr fuel with 120 GWd/t burn-up and breeding ratio of 1.5 or more, with minor actinide and long-lived fission product recycle.

China HTR-PM (pebble bed) will have 80 GWd/t discharge burnup and is under construction now.

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