Investigation of the use of thorium in LWRs for improving reactor core performance
Thorium is a fertile material and most of the past research has focused on breeding thorium into fissile material to achieve a more sustainable use of nuclear power. However, the focus in this report is on using thorium to improve reactor core performance. The improvement of reactor core performance is achieved by increasing the thermal margins by homogeneously distributing thorium in the fuel pellets.
A proposed uranium-thorium-based fuel assembly is simulated for the Swedish Ringhals-3 PWR core in a realistic demonstration. In order to fully grasp the benefits and drawbacks of the newly proposed uranium-thorium-based fuel, a reload safety evaluation has been performed. For a real core, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority would require an identical evaluation method to ensure that safety criteria are met during the whole cycle. In this report, only a few key safety parameters, such as isothermal- and Doppler-temperature coefficients of reactivity, pin peak
power, boron worth, shutdown margins, and core average beta-effective are presented. The calculations were performed by the two-dimensional transport code CASMO-4E, and the two group three dimensional nodal code SIMULATE-3K from Studsvik Scandpower. The results showed that the uranium-thorium-based fuel assembly improves the thermal margins, both in the pin peak power and the local power (Fq). The improved thermal margins would allow more flexible core loading patterns with less neutron leakage, and could be used in power uprated cores to offer better safety margins.
light water reactor