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Title: Conceptual design of a breed & burn molten salt reactor
Author: Kasam, Alisha
ISNI:       0000 0004 7651 6652
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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A breed-and-burn molten salt reactor (BBMSR) concept is proposed to address the Generation IV fuel cycle sustainability objective in a once-through cycle with low enrichment and no reprocessing. The BBMSR uses separate fuel and coolant molten salts, with the fuel contained in assemblies of individual tubes that can be shuffled and reclad periodically to enable high burnup. In this dual-salt configuration, the BBMSR may overcome several limitations of previous breed-and-burn (B$\&$B) designs to achieve high uranium utilisation with a simple, passively safe design. A central challenge in design of the BBMSR fuel is balancing the neutronic requirement of large fuel volume fraction for B$\&$B mode with the thermal-hydraulic requirements for safe and economically competitive reactor operation. Natural convection of liquid fuel within the tubes aids heat transfer to the coolant, and a systematic approach is developed to efficiently model this complex effect. Computational fluid dynamics modelling is performed to characterise the unique physics of the system and produce a new heat transfer correlation, which is used alongside established correlations in a numerical model. A design framework is built around this numerical model to iteratively search for the limiting power density of a given fuel and channel geometry, applying several defined temperature and operational constraints. It is found that the trade-offs between power density, core pressure drop, and pumping power are lessened by directing the flow of coolant downwards through the channel. Fuel configurations that satisfy both neutronic and thermal-hydraulic objectives are identified for natural, 5$\%$ enriched, and 20$\%$ enriched uranium feed fuel. B$\&$B operation is achievable in the natural and 5$\%$ enriched versions, with power densities of 73 W/cm$^3$ and 86 W/cm$^3$, and theoretical uranium utilisations of 300 $\mathrm{MWd/kgU_{NAT}}$ and 25.5 $\mathrm{MWd/kgU_{NAT}}$, respectively. Using 20$\%$ enriched feed fuel relaxes neutronic constraints so a wider range of fuel configurations can be considered, but there is a strong inverse correlation between power density and uranium utilisation. The fuel design study demonstrates the flexibility of the BBMSR concept to operate along a spectrum of modes ranging from high fuel utilisation at moderate power density using natural uranium feed fuel, to high power density and moderate utilisation using 20$\%$ uranium enrichment.
Supervisor: Shwageraus, Eugene Sponsor: University of Cambridge ; Ford Britain Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: nuclear ; molten salt ; mixed convection ; computational fluid dynamics ; breed & burn ; fast reactors ; fuel cycle ; Generation IV ; neutronic ; thermal-hydraulic ; power density ; uranium utilisation ; breeding ; natural uranium ; low-enriched ; fluoride salt ; chloride salt ; Serpent ; WIMS ; sodium fast reactor ; fast spectrum ; heat transfer correlation ; finite-difference model ; Monte Carlo ; OpenFOAM ; molten salt reactor ; MATLAB