Fuel, Structural Material and Coolant for an Advanced Fast Micro-Reactor

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J. A. Do Nascimento et al. (2014), JBIS, 67, pp.381-389

Refcode: 2014.67.381
Keywords: Space reactor, seabed reactor, nuclear materials, fast micro-reactor

Abstract:
The use of nuclear reactors in space, seabed or other Earth hostile environment in the future is a vision that some Brazilian nuclear researchers share. Currently, the USA, a leader in space exploration, has as long-term objectives the establishment of a permanent Moon base and to launch a manned mission to Mars. A nuclear micro-reactor is the power source chosen to provide energy for life support, electricity for systems, in these missions. A strategy to develop an advanced micro-reactor technologies may consider the current fast reactor technologies as back-up and the development of advanced fuel, structural and coolant materials. The next generation reactors (GEN-IV) for terrestrial applications will operate with high output temperature to allow advanced conversion cycle, such as Brayton, and hydrogen production, among others. The development of an advanced fast micro-reactor may create a synergy between the GEN-IV and space reactor technologies. Considering a set of basic requirements and materials properties this paper discusses the choice of advanced fuel, structural and coolant materials for a fast micro-reactor. The chosen candidate materials are: nitride, oxide as back-up, for fuel, lead, tin and gallium for coolant, ferritic MA-ODS and Mo alloys for core structures. The next step will be the neutronic and burnup evaluation of core concepts with this set of materials.

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