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This report presents the results of the Task 3, defined in working program as: evaluation of burnable poison designs. Adopting the basic design of a standard PWR and Pu loadings required for 18-month cycle (results of Task 2), this part of the program is aimed to estimate performance of each BP design and BP material to address challenges of Fertile-Free Fuel (FFF) Concept. Finally, an optimal BP design will be developed and an overall feasibility of FFF concept will be determined. Basically, the main challenge encountered in neutronic design for a FFF core is to develop reactivity control system which is capable to satisfy performance and safety criteria of existing PWR plants.

Heavy Pu loadings combined with absence of fertile isotopes with capture resonances result in low reactivity worth of existing control mechanisms and inadequate temperature coefficients. The main solution adopted by several previous design efforts is based on increased content of BP materials with capture resonances. The BP designs proposed and analyzed in previous designs are based on such elements as: Gd, Hf, and Er, located in fuel cell, either as a homogeneous mixture or as a thin ring (IFBA-type geometry). This approach results in a large residual reactivity penalty due to an incomplete burnup of the BP material (especially Hf and Er). Description and parameters of the BP designs considered in this work are presented in section II.

In this report, an extensive set of calculations was carried out to assess the potential of the main BP materials - B, Gd, Hf, and Er, utilized in three main geometrical arrangements: Wet Annular Burnable Absorber (WABA) type, Integral Fuel Burnable Absorber (IFBA) type, and Homogeneous fuel-BP mixture.

Heavy loadings of BP materials in non-standard geometries combined with high Pu content in a fertile-free matrix necessitated additional verification of the calculational tools. Verification of the calculational modeling and parameters are presented in section III. A full scope of calculations is presented in section IV of this report. All cases are arranged according to geometry-type and BP material. The results and analysis of these calculations, presented and summarized in Section V, serve as a basis for a comprehensive assessment of BP potential to address challenges of the FFF concepts.

Three main performance parameters of the BP designs will be evaluated:

1. Maximum critical soluble boron concentration (CBC) required during the cycle,

2. Acceptable fuel and moderator temperature coefficients (will be evaluated in Task 4),

3. Residual reactivity penalty associated with incomplete depletion of the BP material


Erbium; Gadolinium; Hafnium; Mixed oxide fuels (Nuclear engineering); Nuclear chemistry; Nuclear fuel elements; Nuclear fuels; Nuclear reactors – Reactivity; Plutonium; Solid oxide fuel cells


Nuclear | Nuclear Engineering | Oil, Gas, and Energy | Radiochemistry