The Lead-cooled Fast Reactor (LFR) features a fast neutron spectrum, high temperature operation, and cooling by molten lead or lead-bismuth eutectic (LBE), low-pressure, chemically inert liquids with very good thermodynamic properties. It would have multiple applications including production of electricity, hydrogen and process heat. System concepts represented in plans of the Generation-IV International Forum (GIF) System Research Plan (SRP) are based on Europes ELFR lead-cooled system, Russias BREST-OD-300 and the SSTAR system concept designed in the US.
The LFR has excellent materials management capabilities since it operates in the fast-neutron spectrum and uses a closed fuel cycle for efficient conversion of fertile uranium. It can also be used as a burner to consume actinides from spent LWR fuel and as a burner/breeder with thorium matrices. An important feature of the LFR is the enhanced safety that results from the choice of molten lead as a chemically inert and low-pressure coolant. In terms of sustainability, lead is abundant and hence available, even in case of deployment of a large number of reactors. More importantly, as with other fast systems, fuel sustainability is greatly enhanced by the conversion capabilities of the LFR fuel cycle. Because they incorporate a liquid coolant with a very high margin to boiling and benign interaction with air or water, LFR concepts offer substantial potential in terms of safety, design simplification, proliferation resistance and the resulting economic performance. An important factor is the potential for benign end state to severe accidents.
The LFR has development needs in the areas of fuels, materials performance, and corrosion control. During the next 5 years progress is expected on materials, system design, and operating parameters. Significant test and demonstration activities are underway and planned during this time frame.
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