The Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) system features a fast-spectrum, sodium-cooled reactor and a closed fuel cycle for efficient management of actinides and conversion of fertile uranium.
The SFR is designed for management of high-level wastes and, in particular, management of plutonium and other actinides. Important safety features of the system include a long thermal response time, a large margin to coolant boiling, a primary system that operates near atmospheric pressure, and intermediate sodium system between the radioactive sodium in the primary system and the power conversion system. Water/steam and carbon-dioxide are being considered as the working fluids for the power conversion system in order to achieve high-level performances in thermal efficiency, safety and reliability. With innovations to reduce capital cost, the SFR can serve markets for electricity.
The fuel cycle employs a full actinide recycle with three major options. The first option is a large size (600 to 1,500 MWe) loop-type sodium-cooled reactor using mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel, supported by a fuel cycle based upon advanced aqueous processing at a central location serving a number of reactors. The second option is an intermediate size (300 to 600 MWe) pool-type reactor and the third a small size (50 to 150MWe) modular-type sodium-cooled reactor employing uranium-plutonium-minor-actinide-zirconium metal alloy fuel, supported by a fuel cycle based on pyrometallurgical processing in facilities integrated with the reactor. The outlet temperature is approximately 550 degrees celsius for all the three concepts.
The SFR's fast spectrum also makes it possible to use available fissile and fertile materials (including depleted uranium) considerably more efficiently than thermal spectrum reactors with once-through fuel cycles.
Advantages and challenges
The SFR system already benefits from considerable technological experience, but also offers the potential to operate with a high conversion fast spectrum core, with the resulting benefit of increasing the utilization of fuel resources. The envisaged SFR capability to efficiently and nearly completely consume trans-uranium as fuel would reduce the actinide loadings in the high-level radioactive waste it produces. Such reductions would bring benefits in the radioactive waste disposal requirements associated with the system and enhance its non-proliferation attributes. Reducing the capital cost and improving passive safety, especially under transient conditions, are the major challenges for the SFR system.
GIF progress in 2007
Signatories to the SFR System Arrangement (first signed in February 2006) moved research on SFR systems forward during 2007. The most notable achievement was the signing of the first GIF Project Arrangement in March 2007. Signed by the five partners to the SFR System Arrangement, the project agreement sets out a detailed plan for research and development activities in the area of advanced fuel and details the schedule, funding and deliverables expected to achieve this. Other Project Arrangements have since been signed in the areas of component design and balance-of-plant (CD&BOP) and the Global Actinide Cycle International Demonstration (GACID). The CD&BOP aims to develop key components and devices of the plant system and to investigate safe and effective power conversion concepts. The GACID aims to demonstrate on a significant scale that fast neutron reactors can manage the whole actinide inventory and that the associated technologies can satisfy the GIF criteria of safety, economy, sustainability and proliferation resistance and physical protection.
Recent SFR research papers
Chikazawa, Y., Okano, Y., Konomura, M. et al., (2007) A Compact Loop-Type Fast Reactor without Refueling For a Remote Area Power Source, Nuclear Technology, 157, 2, pp. 120-131.
Hahn, D., Kim, Y., Kim, S., Lee, J., Lee, Y. and Jeong H., (2007) Conceptual Design Features of the KALIMER-600 Sodium Cooled Fast Reactor, Global 2007, 9-13 September 2007, Boise, USA.
Niwa, H., Aoto, K. and Morishita, M., Current Status and Perspective of Advanced Loop Type Fast Reactor in Fast Reactor Cycle Technology Development Project, Global 2007, 9-13 September 2007, Boise, USA (2007).
Sienicki, J., Moisseytsev, A., Cho, D., Momozaki, Y., Kilsdonk, D., Haglund, R., Reed, C. and Farmer, M.,(2007) Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton Cycle Energy Conversion for Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactors/Advanced Burner Reactors, Global 2007, 9-13 September 2007, Boise, USA.
Zaetta, A., Dufour, Ph., Pruhliere, G., Rimpault, G., Thevenot, C., Tommasi, J. and Varaine, F. (2007), Innovating Core Design for Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors of Fourth Generation, Paper #7383, ICAPP 2007, 13-18 May 2007, Nice, France.
Chang, Y. (2005), Konomura, M. and Lo Pinto, P., A Case for Small Modular Fast Reactor, Global 2005, 9-13 October 2005, Tsukuba, Japan.
Hahn, D., Kim, Y., Kin, S., Lee, J. and Lee, Y. (2005), Design Concept of KALIMER-600, Global 2005, 9-13 October 2005, Tsukuba, Japan.
Kotake, S., Sakamoto, Y., Ando, M. and Tanaka, T. (2005), Feasibility Study on Commercialized Fast Reactor Cycle Systems/Current Status of the FR System Design, Global 2005, 9-13 October 2005, Tsukuba, Japan.
Mizuno, T., Ogawa, T., Naganuma, M. and Aida, T. (2005), Advanced Oxide Fuel Core Design Study for SFR in the Feasibility Study in Japan, Global 2005, 9-13 October 2005, Tsukuba, Japan.
DOE Nuclear Energy Research Initiative SFR Program Plan (pdf, 138 kb).
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