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  • SPECTRAL CHARACTERIZATION AND TRANSMUTATION

    OF ACTINIDES IN GASEOUS CORE REACTORS

    By

    CINDY FUNG

    A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT

    OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ENGINEERING

    UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

    2006

  • Copyright 2006

    by

    Cindy Fung

  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

    I thank the members of my supervisory committee Dr. Samim Anghaie, Dr.

    Edward T. Dugan, and Dr. Jacob N. Chung for their guidance, encouragement, and

    support. Their scientific knowledge, dedication to their students, and kindness make the

    learning experience a pleasure. I would like to show deep gratitude for the financial

    support provided by the Department of Energy and the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science

    and Technology through the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative.

    I am fortunate to have Dr. Anghaie as the chair of my supervisory committee. His

    great vision for the future of the nuclear industry and his pragmatic attitude are the

    foundations of this research. I am touched by his compassion and respect for his

    students, and most of all by his honesty.

    It has been enlightening working with Dr. Dugan. His expertise in Gas Core

    Reactors was essential to the success of this research. I am very appreciative of Dr.

    Dugans professionalism and dedication to his role as supervisory committee member.

    I am grateful to have the support and love of my family and all those who love me;

    without them my accomplishments would be meaningless. I want to especially thank a

    close friend who encouraged me to do my best and helped me through times of doubt.

    His unconditional support was essential to the completion of this project.

    iii

  • TABLE OF CONTENTS page

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................................................................. iii

    LIST OF TABLES........................................................................................................... viii

    LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................... xi

    ABSTRACT..................................................................................................................... xiv

    CHAPTER

    1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................1

    The Fuel Cycle..............................................................................................................2 Mining and Milling of Uranium Ore .....................................................................2 Conversion of Yellowcake to Uranium-Hexafluoride ..........................................3 Enrichment of Uranium.........................................................................................3 Fabrication of Nuclear Fuel...................................................................................3 Power Production ..................................................................................................4

    Spent Fuel Characteristics ............................................................................................4 Nuclear Waste History..................................................................................................6 Nuclear Waste Treatment .............................................................................................8

    Reprocessing and Recycling..................................................................................8 Advantages of the closed cycle ......................................................................9 Disadvantages of the closed cycle..................................................................9

    Storage and Disposal ...........................................................................................10 Low level waste............................................................................................10 High level waste ...........................................................................................12 Advantages of the open cycle.......................................................................14 Disadvantages of the open cycle ..................................................................14

    Nuclear Waste Challenges..........................................................................................15 Permanent Repository not Available...................................................................15 More Repositories are Needed ............................................................................16 MRS not Available ..............................................................................................16 Reprocessing Facility not Available....................................................................17 Waste Must be Isolated for 10,000 Years ...........................................................18

    Current Technology ....................................................................................................19 Boiling Water Reactor .........................................................................................20 Pressurized Water Reactor ..................................................................................21

    iv

  • Developing Technologies ...........................................................................................22 Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) ....................................................................23 Gaseous Core Reactor (GCR) .............................................................................24

    Thesis Objectives........................................................................................................25

    2 THE GASEOUS CORE REACTOR..........................................................................26

    GCR Description And Modeling ................................................................................26 Reactor Geometry................................................................................................26 Reactor Materials.................................................................................................27

    Gaseous fuel .................................................................................................28 Reflector/moderator .....................................................................................31

    Assumptions ........................................................................................................34 Power Conversion Systems ........................................................................................35 GCR Characteristics ...................................................................................................36

    Safety and Feedback............................................................................................36 Reactivity Control ...............................................................................................38 Core Neutronics...................................................................................................38

    Advantages Of The GCR............................................................................................39 Computational Tools ..................................................................................................41

    MCNP..................................................................................................................41 ORIGEN ..............................................................................................................44 MONTEBURNS..................................................................................................45

    3 ACTINIDES AND FISSION PRODUCTS................................................................47

    Origins ........................................................................................................................48 Actinides..............................................................................................................50

    92-Uranium (U)............................................................................................50 93-Neptunium (Np) ......................................................................................51 94-Plutonium (Pu) ........................................................................................53 95-Americium (Am).....................................................................................57 96-Curium (Cm)...........................................................................................58

    Fission Products...................................................................................................62 38-Strontium (Sr) .........................................................................................62 43-Technetium (Tc)......................................................................................63 53-Iodine (I) .................................................................................................63 55-Cesium (Cs) ............................................................................................64

    Applications................................................................................................................65 Nuclear Fuel ........................................................................................................66 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG)..................................................68 Improving Proliferation Resistance of Fissile Material.......................................70 Nuclear Medicine: Diagnost

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