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Sensitivity analysis of minor actinides transmutation to physical and technological parameters

Abstract : Minor actinides transmutation is one of the three main axis defined by the 2006 French law for management of nuclear waste, along with long-term storage and use of a deep geological repository. Transmutation options for critical systems can be divided in two different approaches: (a) homogeneous transmutation, in which minor actinides are mixed with the fuel. This exhibits the drawback of “polluting” the entire fuel cycle with minor actinides and also has an important impact on core reactivity coefficients such as Doppler Effect or sodium void worth for fast reactors when the minor actinides fraction increases above 3 to 5% depending on the core; (b) heterogeneous transmutation, in which minor actinides are inserted into transmutation targets which can be located in the center or in the periphery of the core. This presents the advantage of decoupling the management of the minor actinides from the conventional fuel and not impacting the core reactivity coefficients. In both cases, the design and analyses of potential transmutation systems have been carried out in the frame of Gen IV fast reactor using a “perturbation” approach in which nominal power reactor parameters are modified to accommodate the loading of minor actinides. However, when designing such a transmutation strategy, parameters from all steps of the fuel cycle must be taken into account, such as spent fuel heat load, gamma or neutron sources or fabrication feasibility. Considering a multi-recycling strategy of minor actinides, an analysis of relevant estimators necessary to fully analyze a transmutation strategy has been performed in this work and a sensitivity analysis of these estimators to a broad choice of reactors and fuel cycle parameters has been carried out. No threshold or percolation effects were observed. Saturation of transmutation rate with regards to several parameters has been observed, namely the minor actinides volume fraction and the irradiation time. Estimators of interest that have been derived from this approach include the maximum neutron source and decay heat load acceptable at reprocessing and fabrication steps, which influence among other things the total minor actinides inventory, the overall complexity of the cycle and the size of the geological repository. Based on this analysis, a new methodology to assess transmutation strategies is proposed.
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Kooyman Timothée, Laurent Buiron. Sensitivity analysis of minor actinides transmutation to physical and technological parameters. EPJ N - Nuclear Sciences & Technologies, EDP Sciences, 2015, 1 (15), ⟨10.1051/epjn/e2015-50055-0⟩. ⟨cea-01370173⟩



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