Transmuting minor actinides with thermal reactor neutrons

UDC: 
УДК 621.039.54(04)

Issue of journal:

Abstract: 

The process of closing natural U based nuclear fuel cycle presupposes extracting U
and Pu from spent fuel. Among the remaining heavy nuclei the major contribution of
radioactivity is due to minor actinides. One of the ideas suggested to reduce the
radioactivity of spent fuel is to reradiate minor actinides for a longer period of time,
such process being referred to as transmutation.
Some authors claim the necessity of transmutation in the high energy neutron
spectra. To accomplish this the purpose oriented burner!reactors and accelerator!based
sub critical systems are to be incorporated into nuclear fuel cycle
The particular paper considers feasibility of transmuting minor actinides with thermal
reactor neutrons. Basic factor of transmutation feasibility – ratio of radioactivity levels
with and without transmutation ξ(t) has been used. This ratio in function ξ(t) can be
either more or less 1, the values making major contribution into the feasibility
assessment. Functions ξ(t) for minor actinides have been calculated. The following
conclusions have been made in terms of reducing radioactivity: (a) Ne is not a subject
for transmuting; (b) a relatively small effect has been observed for Cm, its radioactivity
reducing by an order in 500 years; (c) Am reduces its radioactivity from 10 to 100 times
300 years after being reradiated. The authors have shown that the best ξ(t) values are
reached when minor actinides burn!up is up to 70–80%.
In order to come to a conclusion on transmutation feasibility for Am and Cm the
authors suggest that in the scenarios involved the following issues be taken into
account – how risks of their release into the environment differ, how biological
effectiveness differs as well as efficiency of transmuting minor actinides produced by
operating nuclear power and continuously placed into spent fuel storage.

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