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Pu-breeding feasibility in irradiation channels of research reactors

Pu-breeding feasibility in irradiation channels of research reactors,10.1016/j.nucengdes.2010.11.015,Nuclear Engineering and Design,A. Tomanin,P. Peer

Pu-breeding feasibility in irradiation channels of research reactors  
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The breeding potential in the irradiation channels of research reactors is of safeguards concern, because of lacking continuous supervision on the type of experiments in all the irradiation channels. Moreover, the irradiation time can be optimized in order to breed high quality weapon grade plutonium. With regard to the safeguards measures currently adopted, IAEA concentrates its efforts on those reactors whose thermal power is greater than 25MWth, because it was calculated that a 25MWth LEU-fuelled reactor produces not more than one Significant Quantity of Pu (8kg)/year in its spent fuel and a HEU-fuelled reactor of this power would require an annual reload of not more than one Significant Quantity of U235 (25kg). In order to investigate whether it would be possible to determine an analogous power level threshold to estimate the clandestine plutonium production capability of different research reactors, the Monte Carlo method was used to determine the neutron flux in the irradiation channels and to calculate the plutonium breeding potential for three different reactor types: (1) a Triga Mark II with 250kWth, representative for a small size research reactor; (2) a Material Test Reactor (MTR) with 5MWth, representative for a medium size research reactor; (3) a High Flux Reactor (HFR) with 45MWth, representative for a large size research reactor. It was observed that the most important factors for plutonium breeding are the neutron flux (to which reaction rates are proportional) and the available space to place irradiation samples. The breeding capability scales fairly well with the reactor power level and from about 10MWth onwards the proliferation concern raises with increasing power level and available sample space.
Journal: Nuclear Engineering and Design - NUCL ENG DES , vol. 241, no. 2, pp. 476-483, 2011
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