Fuel cycle cost and fabrication model for fluoride-salt high-temperature reactor (FHR) "Plank" fuel design optimization
Kingsbury, Christopher W.
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The fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactor (FHR) is a novel reactor design benefitting from passive safety features, high operating temperatures with corresponding high conversion efficiency, to name a few key features. The fuel is a layered graphite plank configuration containing enriched uranium oxycarbide (UCO) tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) fuel particles. Fuel cycle cost (FCC) models have been used to analyze and optimize fuel plate thicknesses, enrichment, and packing fraction as well as to gauge the economic competitiveness of this reactor design. Since the development of the initial FCC model, many corrections and modifications have been identified that will make the model more accurate. These modifications relate to corrections made to the neutronic simulations and the need for a more accurate fabrication costs estimate. The former pertains to a MC Dancoff factor that corrects for fuel particle neutron shadowing that occurs for double-heterogeneous fuels in multi-group calculations. The latter involves a detailed look at the fuel fabrication process to properly account for material, manufacturing, and quality assurance cost components and how they relate to the heavy metal loading in a FHR fuel plank. It was found that the fabrication cost may be a more significant portion of the total FCC than was initially attributed. TRISO manufacturing cost and heavy metal loading via packing fraction were key factors in total fabrication cost. This study evaluated how much neutronic and fabrication cost corrections can change the FCC model, optimum fuel element parameters, and the economic feasibility of the reactor design.