ECN publication
Technology assessment HTR: pt. 5: thorium fueled High Temperature gascooled Reactors
Published by: Publication date:
ECN 1996
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-C--96-045 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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Thorium as a fertile fuel component for the High Temperature Gas cooledReactor (HTR) instead of uranium has been reviewed. The use of thorium is generally believed to be more in agreement with philosophies of sustainability, low actinide waste production, and non-proliferation. The HTR is considered because of the inherent safety features, which excludes fuel melting due to decay heat during loss of coolant accidents. It has been concluded that the use of thorium might be beneficial to reduce the actinide waste production. Preferably, uranium has to be recycled and extra fissile material has to be used in the form of highly-enriched uranium. This is in contradiction with the current doctrines of non-proliferation, although the safeguard ability of highly-enriched uranium is generally accepted to be possible. A self-sustaining fuel cycle might be possible in the HTR, but this could reduce the inherent safety features of the design and it could lead to higher proliferation risks and fuel cycle costs. To obtain breeding in an HTR, a larger core size is necessary, which will reduce the passive cooling capabilities. The higher proliferation risks are due to the occurrence of the fissile U-233 in the fuel cycle. This can be prevented by diluting this fissile material with U-238, but this will change the thorium fuel cycle slowly into a fuel cycle containing mainly U-238 instead of Th-232. 6 figs., 8 tabs., 16 refs.

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