Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

Guillermo I. Maldonado

Committee Members

Laurence F. Miller, Jess C. Gehin

Abstract

Presented is an investigation of the utilization of Tristructural-Isotropic (TRISO) particle-based fuel designs for the recycling of Plutonium/Neptunium (Pu/Np) Transuranic (TRU) isotopes in typical Westinghouse four-loop pressurized water reactors. Though numerous studies have evaluated the recycling of TRU isotopes in light water reactors (LWRs), this work differentiates itself by employing Pu/Np loaded TRISO particles embedded within a SiC matrix and formed into pellets that can be loaded into standard 17x17 fuel element cladding. This approach provides the capability of Pu/Np recycling, and by virtue of the TRISO particle design, will allow for greater burnup of Pu/Np material and improved fuel reliability. In this study, a variety of assembly layouts and core loading patterns were analyzed to demonstrate the feasibility of Pu/Np loaded TRISO fuel. The assembly and core designs herein reported are not fully optimized, and require fine-tuning to flatten power peaks, however, the progress achieved thus far strongly supports the conclusion that with further rod/assembly/core loading and placement optimization, Pu/Np loaded TRISO fuel and core designs that are capable of balancing Pu/Np production/destruction can be designed within the standard constraints for thermal and reactivity performance in PWRs.

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