Three technical challenges facing advanced fuel cycle closure
Many technical hurdles remain to be overcome before an advanced fuel cycle in which minor actinides from spent nuclear fuel are used to generate power. Three such issues were addressed: criticality safety of minor actinides as compared to currently used fissile isotopes; accuracy of evaluated nuclear data for selected minor actinide high energy fission cross-sections; and the preliminary design optimization of a minor actinide burning/breeding fission blanket in a fission fusion hybrid reactor concept. For minor actinide compositions found in spent fuel, current safety measures for actinide solutions were found to be adequate, though concerns may remain for unmoderated transuranic materials. Additionally, computational results indicated a 5-10% error in the fission cross-section of some minor actinides above the fast fission threshold. Finally, a relatively tall annular fission blanket was found to be the most ideal configuration for the UT fission- fusion hybrid reactor concept, satisfying criticality and power output criteria.