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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
Volume 2013, Article ID 618707, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/618707
Research Article

A Compact Gas-Cooled Fast Reactor with an Ultra-Long Fuel Cycle

General Atomics, P.O. Box 85608, San Diego, CA 92186-5608, USA

Received 24 October 2012; Accepted 14 March 2013

Academic Editor: Wei Shen

Copyright © 2013 Hangbok Choi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In an attempt to allow nuclear power to reach its full economic potential, General Atomics is developing the Energy Multiplier Module (EM2), which is a compact gas-cooled fast reactor (GFR). The EM2 augments its fissile fuel load with fertile materials to enhance an ultra-long fuel cycle based on a “convert-and-burn” core design which converts fertile material to fissile fuel and burns it in situ over a 30-year core life without fuel supplementation or shuffling. A series of reactor physics trade studies were conducted and a baseline core was developed under the specific physics design requirements of the long-life small reactor. The EM2 core performance was assessed for operation time, fuel burnup, excess reactivity, peak power density, uranium utilization, etc., and it was confirmed that an ultra-long fuel cycle core is feasible if the conversion is enough to produce fissile material and maintain criticality, the amount of matrix material is minimized not to soften the neutron spectrum, and the reactor core size is optimized to minimize the neutron loss. This study has shown the feasibility, from the reactor physics standpoint, of a compact GFR that can meet the objectives of ultra-long fuel cycle, factory-fabrication, and excellent fuel utilization.