Nuclear Mission for Fusion (Transmutation, fissle breeding and Pu dispostion)
Stacey, Weston M.
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There are potential applications of fusion neutron sources to 'drive' sub-critical fission reactors to perform one or more possible 'nuclear' missions. Since only a fraction of the neutrons in these applications would be fusion neutrons, the requirements are modest relative to the requirements for pure fusion electrical power (e.g. for the transmutation mission-- fusion power P[subscript fus] ≤ 250 MW, fusion power density β [subscript N] ≤ 2.5, 14 MeV neutron wall load Γ[subscript n] < 1 MW/m² and power amplification Q[subscript p] ≤ 2). A sub-critical, source-driven reactor almost certainly would be more expensive and initially would have lower availability than a conventional critical reactor, because of the additional cost and lower initial availability of the fusion or accelerator neutron source. In order to be competitive with a critical reactor for a given mission, a sub-critical reactor must introduce certain advantages that allow the mission to be carried out more efficiently, and there appear to be such advantages. Making use of ITER physics and technology, using ITER as a prototype, and adopting the reactor and processing technology being developed in the nuclear program could lead to a fusion-driven sub-critical reactor for the transmutation of spent nuclear fuel, fissile breeding or disposition of weapons-grade plutonium being on-line by 2040, as compared to the plans for putting critical and accelerator-driven sub-critical reactors on-line for such missions by 2030. All of the R and D needed to develop the fusion neutron source for such a facility is directly on the path to fusion power (in fact is needed for an electric power DEMO); and the operation of a fusion-driven sub-critical reactor could also serve the purposes envisioned for a ‘volume neutron source’, thus taking the place of such a device in the development path to fusion power.