The development of Advanced Reactor Technology, part 2

Nuclear reactor technology has grown exponentially since it first started operations in 1940 's. Nuclear power reactors in use around the world today is nuclear reactors of generation II and III. Shortly, the Decade 2020 's, the era of the nuclear reactors of generation IV (advanced reactor) will greet us.

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In part 1 (Please read the development of advanced nuclear reactor Technology, part 1), has discussed three of the six advanced reactor technology, i.e., the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) and Supercritical Water Reactor (SCWR).

What about the other three technologies? The following penjabarannya.

  1. Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor (SCFR)
Figure 1. Scheme of SCFR (source: Soeharto, 2013)

Advanced reactor designs are SCFR most got the support of research in different countries. SCFR using solid fuel and liquid sodium metal in the form of cooling. Because it is designed to operate on a fast neutron spectrum, SCFR doesn't need a moderator such as MSR, VHTR nor the SCWR. SCFR focused to use uranium and plutonium fuel [1].

The use of either a liquid sodium at the nominal operating temperature 510oC meniscayakan SCFR operates with atmospheric pressure, so it does not need a high pressure vessel [2]. Consequently, the risk of accidents due to pressure loss cannot happen. Little issues on the cooling of SCFR is sodium, which causes the reactor to have positive void reactivity. The positive reactivity causes a fission chain reaction is thus increased when the condition of the reactor coolant loss (loss of coolant), rather than reduced. If it is not controlled immediately, the impact may cause a meltdown. However, it can be anticipated with the use of thorium reflector.

Sodium are reactive. The leakage of sodium from the primary cooling pipes can be promoted on terpantiknya fire in building the reactors. However, the operational experience of SCFR in Russia showed that it is very rare and is already resolved since 1990-an [4]. Until the year 2018, advanced reactor technology SCFR there is only 1 in Russia and the reactor are still using the old SCFR design.

The combination of a fast neutron spectrum and the cycle of uranium meniscayakan SCFR has the capability of breeding [2]. This breeding ability cause SCFR is capable of producing the fuel in the reactor more than it consumed. In effect, the use of highly efficient SCFR fuel.

Two units, namely the SCFR BN-600 and BN-800, has been operating in Russia. While one unit prototype SCFR in India is almost completed. Travelling Wave Reactor (TWR), one of the variants of SCFR designed by TerraPower, projected to be built purwarupanya in China by 2020 [3].

  1. Lead-Cooled Fast Reactor (LCFR)

LCFR similar to SCFR, i.e. equally fast neutron spectrum operation. The difference, the LCFR using coolant lead or lead-bismuth liquid instead of sodium [2]. Because the use of lead, then theoretically LCFR capable of operating with a temperature higher than SCFR, until you reach 800oC. LCFR effect, potentially for use in hydrogen generation. But the problem of corrosion at high temperature is still a stand that slows development of LCFR. While this prototype LCFR will still be operated at a temperature of conservative, i.e. 550oC1].

Figure 2. LCFR schema (source: Soeharto, 2013)

LCFR can use uranium or thorium as fuel. As SCFR, LCFR also has the capability of breeding. Because the liquid is not boiling lead at high temperature, the ambient pressure operate on LCFR. By implication, the LCFR doesn't need an expensive vessel pressure [1].

LCFR research has been done in United States, Japan, Russia and Europe, with plans to start operations of the 2025 LCFR with lower operating temperatures and 2040 to LCFR high temperature [1].

Because the same using liquid metal coolant, SCFR and LCFR can be included in the higher categories, namely Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor (LMFBR).

  1. Gas-Cooled Fast Reactor (GCFR)

The last is GCFR. The principle of GCFR is almost similar to the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR), which use solid fuel and gas coolers. Only, not using a moderator GCFR [2]. So, GCFR operates with a fast neutron spectrum. Thus, GCFR better suited for uranium fuel cycle. Operating temperature GCFR capable of achieving 850oC so it can be used to produce hydrogen [1].

Figure 3. Scheme of GCFR (source: Soeharto, 2013)

Because it uses gas cooling, then the void reactivity GCFR unaffected. In effect, the loss of coolant flow will not cause fission chain reaction increases that can cause a meltdown. GCFR is nuclear reactors with low power density. The effects are more easily done when the reactor shutdown cooling. Even possible that cooling GCFR does not require water cooler, but rather just using air circulation (passive cooling).

Compared to other designs, GCFR fifth is the only advanced reactor designs that have never been built purwarupanya. It is estimated, prototype new GCFR will operate after the year 2022. Euratom is planning to build a prototype GCFR starting in 2018. France, Euratom, Japan and Switzerland cooperated in research GCFR [2].

Baca juga:

Of course each of these designs still has its own challenges to overcome before it can be operated commercially. Because of that, up to medio 2020 's, the contemporary nuclear reactors will still dominate in the construction of NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS. Nevertheless, improvements to the features offered by the advanced reactors are certainly very interesting to be an option.

When a country decides to go nuclear, then advanced reactor was supposed to be a top priority of the technology options. Indonesia itself through the middle to develop advanced reactor BATAN a VHTR. While Martingale, Inc. are asking their testing licenses, ThorCon, MSR to be built purwarupanya in Indonesia.

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Reference

  1. World Nuclear Association. Generation IV Nuclear Reactors. Updated December 2017. (http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/generation-iv-nuclear-reactors.aspx), accessed 17 January 2018.
  2. Andang Widi Soeharto, Kusnanto. 2013. Advanced Reactor Technology. Yogyakarta: Program Of Study Nuclear Engineering Gadjah Mada University.
  3. Robert Hargraves. 2012. Thorium Energy Cheaper Than Coal. Hanover: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  4. A. Potapov. 2013. Operating experience from the BN600 sodium fast reactor.
R. Andika Putra Dwijayanto
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