An autonomous long-term fast reactor system and the principal design limitations of the concept



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas A&M University


The objectives of this dissertation were to find a principal domain of promising and technologically feasible reactor physics characteristics for a multi-purpose, modular-sized, lead-cooled, fast neutron spectrum reactor fueled with an advanced uranium-transuranic-nitride fuel and to determine the principal limitations for the design of an autonomous long-term multi-purpose fast reactor (ALM-FR) within the principal reactor physics characteristic domain. The objectives were accomplished by producing a conceptual design for an ALM-FR and by analysis of the potential ALM-FR performance characteristics. The ALM-FR design developed in this dissertation is based on the concept of a secure transportable autonomous reactor for hydrogen production (STAR-H2) and represents further refinement of the STAR-H2 concept towards an economical, proliferation-resistant, sustainable, multi-purpose nuclear energy system. The development of the ALM-FR design has been performed considering this reactor within the frame of the concept of a self-consistent nuclear energy system (SCNES) that satisfies virtually all of the requirements for future nuclear energy systems: efficient energy production, safety, self-feeding, non-proliferation, and radionuclide burning. The analysis takes into consideration a wide range of reactor design aspects including selection of technologically feasible fuels and structural materials, core configuration optimization, dynamics and safety of long-term operation on one fuel loading, and nuclear material non-proliferation. Plutonium and higher actinides are considered as essential components of an advanced fuel that maintains long-term operation. Flexibility of the ALM-FR with respect to fuel compositions is demonstrated acknowledging the principal limitations of the long-term burning of plutonium and higher actinides. To ensure consistency and accuracy, the modeling has been performed using state-of-the-art computer codes developed at Argonne National Laboratory. As a result of the computational analysis performed in this work, the ALM-FR design provides for the possibility of continuous operation during about 40 years on one fuel loading containing mixture of depleted uranium with plutonium and higher actinides. All reactor physics characteristics of the ALM-FR are kept within technological limits ensuring safety of ultra-long autonomous operation. The results obtained provide for identification of physical features of the ALM-FR that significantly influence flexibility of the design and its applications. The special emphasis is given to existing limitations on the utilization of higher actinides as a fuel component.