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Towards the thorium fuel cycle with molten salt fast reactors

Annals of Nuclear Energy
DOI: 10.1016/j.anucene.2013.08.002
  • Generation 4 Reactors
  • Molten Salt Reactor
  • Thorium Fuel Cycle
  • Deployment Scenario
  • Incinerator
  • Msfr


Abstract There is currently a renewed interest in molten salt reactors, due to recent conceptual developments on fast neutron spectrum molten salt reactors (MSFRs) using fluoride salts. It has been recognized as a long term alternative to solid-fueled fast neutron systems with a unique potential (large negative temperature and void coefficients, lower fissile inventory, no initial criticality reserve, simplified fuel cycle, wastes reduction etc.) and is thus one of the reference reactors of the Generation IV International Forum. In the MSFR, the liquid fuel processing is part of the reactor where a small side stream of the molten salt is processed for fission product removal and then returned to the reactor. Because of this characteristic, the MSFR can operate with widely varying fuel compositions, so that the MSFR concept may use as initial fissile load, 233U or enriched uranium or also the transuranic elements currently produced by light water reactors. This paper addresses the characteristics of these different launching modes of the MSFR and the Thorium fuel cycle, in terms of safety, proliferation, breeding, and deployment capacities of these reactor configurations. To illustrate the deployment capacities of the MSFR concept, a French nuclear deployment scenario is finally presented, demonstrating that launching the Thorium fuel cycle is easily feasible while closing the current fuel cycle and optimizing the long-term waste management via stockpile incineration in MSRs.

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