TOKYO, March 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A research team led by Prof. Yoshiaki Oka of Waseda University has succeeded in developing a conceptual nuclear reactor design of high plutonium breeding by light-water cooling for the first time in the world. The team devised a new fuel assembly where fuel rods are closely packed for reducing a reactor coolant to a fraction of fuel volume for high breeding. Prof. Oka succeeded in high plutonium breeding by light-water cooling through computational analysis.
Fast breeder reactors (FBRs) produce more fissile material than consuming while producing electric power. It is a "dream of nuclear power." The main line of FBR development has been liquid metal cooled fast breeder reactors (LMFBRs). It is, however, not yet commercialized because of the complexity of a plant due to the use of liquid sodium as a coolant.
A nuclear fuel cycle and FBRs are important for reducing the amount of spent nuclear fuel of light-water reactors (LWRs) and efficient utilization of uranium resources. Nuclear power utilization is in progress in developing countries. Commercialization of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing in advanced countries enhances nuclear security in the world.
Under the conceptual design, the breeding performance -- the compound system doubling time -- is 40 years. It means that the fissile material and electricity production of a group of FBRs double in 40 years. Energy demand is proportional to gross domestic product (GDP). The growth rate of GDP of seven advanced countries in the OECD is 1.4% in the past 10 years. It means that GDP and energy demand double in 50 years. The breeding performance meets the growth rate of energy demand in advanced countries.
The study will open the way for commercialization of FBRs and a nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful use of nuclear energy based on the mature light-water cooling technology. The result of the study was published in the January issue of "Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology" of Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ).
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