Consumption minimzation of the uranium resources by the use of mixed-oxide fueled reactors

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The need to conserve the limited natural uranium resources necessitates the determination of the optimal use of M0X fueled reactors under various reactor growth scenarios. The reactor growth scenarios include an industry that attains 400, 507, and 600 operating reactors by the year 2000. The reactor-fuel types under consideration include a PWR and a BWR, each of which can utilize an all U0₂ core, a self-generating recycle core, or a plutonium burner core. Results from developing, analyzing, and solving the reactor mix model are used to recommend specific fuel loading strategies.

The reactor mix problem involves the interaction between reactor fuel demand and the availability of SWU, fuel fabrication (U0₂ and M0X), reprocessing, and spent fuel generation. The cost of each type of nuclear fuel is based upon projected costs of uranium, separative work, conversion, reprocessing, and fuel fabrication, as well as plutonium and spent uranium values. Application of the reactor mix model is done on an annual basis for a twenty-five year planning horizon.

The model application is developed through a linear program. The analyses of the linear program problem is done by the use of the proprietary mathematical MPS-III system.

Specific results indicate that spent uranium and plutonium should be utilized in self-generating reactors in order to minimize the consumption of the natural uranium resources. The ability to reprocess spent fuel and to fabricate M0X fuel assemblies are the parameters which restrict the effective introduction of these reactors.