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Light Water Reactor fuels for Deep Burning of Pu in Thermal Systems

LWR-DEPUTY is conceived to fit in a portfolio of experimental research on novel fuels for deep burning of plutonium in existing nuclear power plants (NPPs). It studies to what extent the existing NPPs in Europe can create markedly less nuclear waste by moving to inert matrix fuels. In Generation IV initiative (GEN IV) and Accelerator Driven System (ADS) activities, programs are launched to conceive new reactors and fuels to achieve these objectives as well. However, in LWR-DEPUTY an alternative route is followed, where one enrolls the existing LWRs in the advancement for reducing nuclear waste. The fact that novel fuels are developed for existing reactors allows one to assess the full scenario for industrial implementation including design, fabrication, licensing, in-pile reactor performance and safety.

LWR-DEPUTY intends to build upon the experience gained in 5th Framework Programme (FP5) projects on advanced nuclear fuel. The project is active on two experimental axes as well as a cross-cutting theoretical activity:

  • ceramic-in-metal (CERMET) MOX fuel is not as far developed as the CERCER fuels. Therefore, ‘screening’ (or test) irradiation of four CERMET fuel pins in a Materials Test Reactor is proposed.
  • thoria based fuels have successfully been irradiated in earlier projects, and fuel samples are available for in-depth post-irradiation examination, radiochemical and back-end of the fuel cycle studies.
  • an assessment is made of the efforts needed to introduce novel fuel concepts in existing NPPs. Performance and safety assessment of thoria based fuels is also made and code benchmarking is performed using experimental data from radiochemical analysis of thoria based fuels.

LWR-DEPUTY builds further upon research performed in FP5. The partners are convinced that this is a viable way to ensure continuity and build strong European competence in nuclear science and technology. In complex, strongly regulated and expensive fields like nuclear fuel technology, one must build upon past research. In doing so, LWR-DEPUTY contributes to construct ERA, the European Research Area.

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