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Didier Haas

Nuclear Consulting Company

NC2 ++32 491648840
Thorium Conference, CERN

T. Lung: EURATOM report 1777 (1997) THOR Energy Thorium Fuel Conference, Paris (2010) IAEA No NF-T-2.4 (2012): The role of Thorium to supplement Fuel Cycles of Future Nuclear Energy Systems GIF position paper on the use of Thorium in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle (2010) SNETP Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (2013) and SRA Annex on Thorium (2011) Published EURATOM Framework Programmes results and personal communications
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European Research on Thorium

Thorium in HTRs
Thorium oxide fuel behaviour Molten salt reactors fueled with Thorium Conclusion
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Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform

Launched in 2007
117members from research, industry, academia, technical safety organizations
Recent application of Weinberg Foudation (UK) and ThorEA (UK) both promoting Thorium research

Produced a Research Agenda (2009, revised in 2013) and a Deployment Strategy (2010)

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SNETP has produced an Annex (2011) on Thorium in the Strategic Research Area. Highlights are: LWRs: evolutionary development favoured, with use of Pu as seed (natural U savings); breeding would need new reactor technology HWRs: high conversion ratio achievable HTR: past German HTR development programme aimed at reaching a breeding cycle with Thorium Fast Reactors: breeding possible but with long doubling times; improved void reactivity coefficient in sodium FR; advantage of ADS subcritical reactor (high neutron energies, Th 232 fission + captures) MSR: breeding might be achieved over a wide range of neutron energies; long-trerm development option Pu-burning: Thorium matrices for the purpose of incinerating Pu in LWRs Challenges for solid fuels: reprocessing, remote fuel fabrication
Thorium Conference, CERN

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1960-1980: limited experimental work on Thorium use in HTRs (DRAGON, ATR, THTR, Th-U carbide and oxide fuels) and in the Lingen BWR by SIEMENS (Th-MOX) 1990-2002: Assessment studies including the « Lung report » and the EURATOM projects « Thorium Cycle as a nuclear waste management option » and « Red Impact » 1998-2008: Thorium fuel experiments (Projects THORIUM CYCLE, OMICO, LWR-DEPUTY with irradiations in KWOObrigheim, HFR and BR2) FP7 (2011-13): Performance assessment of Thorium in geological disposal (SKIN Project) FP5-FP7 (1998-now): Thorium fuel studies and characterization for a Molten Salt Reactor (Projects MOST, ALISIA, EVOL…)

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HTR thermal neutron spectrum is very well suited for Thorium breeding Very high burnup capability in HTRs in a once-through cycle; very high stability in geological disposal of the Thorium matrix This explains the (successful) use of Thorium in early HTR projects (DRAGON, AVR Jülich, Peach Bottom, Fort StVrain, THTR); fresh fuel kernels were mixed with Pu or U235 fissile material Potential limitations are the high initial U235 content needed in the once-through strategy and the reprocessing difficulty in case of closed cycle strategy Today, (V)HTR is one of the six GIF R&D systems; European interest in HTR exists, but difficulty in getting industry commitments
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Thorium Conference, CERN

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ThO2 is a very stable ceramic: in-core applications, direct disposal waste management (see leaching tests results from JRC-ITU Karlsruhe) Th-MOX (Th,PuO2) has been contemplated to incinerate separated Pu in LWRs in a fertile matrix, and also as possible « quasi »-inert matrix for MA burning in « targets » The Th matrix produce no new Pu and is fertile as required to keep the reactivity in LWRs In-reactor properties are equivalent (even better if one considers the thermal behaviour and the stability) to UMOX Thermal diffusivity measurements on unirradiated ThMOX at JRC-ITU: higher than U-MOX
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FP5: THORIUM Cycle for P&T and ADS

TRANSMUTATION (3.9 MEuro) Fuels:

TRANSMUTATION (6 MEuro) Preliminary Design Studies for an Experimental ADS: PDS-XADS

FP5 ADOPT Coordination Network

TRANSMUTATION (6.5 MEuro) Basic Studies:

TRANSMUTATION (7.3 MEuro) Technological Support:


FP5 (1998-2002) Projects on Advanced Options for Partitioning and Transmutation

Associated Project on Advanced P&T Fuels: LWR-DEPUTY Project with Thorium fuels

Inert Matrices fuels

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(Th,Pu)O2 fuels were irradiated in three reactors
 HFR-Petten (Na-capsule)  KWO Obrigheim (non-instrumented, commercial PWR)  BR-2 Mol (instrumented & non-instrumented in PWR


Post-irradiation examinations & radiochemistry by different labs (ITU, NRG, PSI, SCK•CEN)


Safety assessment of Plutonium Mixed Oxide Fuel irradiated up to 37.7 GWd/tonne (JNM 2013) J. Somers1,*, D. Papaioannou1, J. McGinley1, D. Sommer2 1. Joint Research Centre – Institute for Transuranium Elements, Postfach 2340, D76125 Karlsruhe, Germany 2. EnBW Kernkraft GmbH*, Postfach 1161, 74843 Obrigheim and Böhmerwaldstraße 15, 74821 Mosbach, Germany

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C. Cozzo et al., J. Nucl. Mater. (2011), doi:10.10C. Cozzo et al., J. Nucl. Mater. (2011),

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Th-MOX Thermal Conductivity as compared to U-MOX
Thermal conductivity, W m K

UO2 ITU UO2 Fink Homogeneous MOX 11.1 wt. % PuO2 9.0 wt. % PuO2 5.6 wt. % PuO2 4.8 wt. % PuO2
C. Cozzo et al., J. Nucl. Mater. (2011), doi:10.10C. Cozzo et al., J. Nucl. Mater. (2011),

5.5 5.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0
Heterogeneous MOX 9 wt. % Pu 7 wt. % Pu MOX Duriez



At 1000K TC of U-MOX: 3.0-3.5 of Th-MOX: >4.0
!! Importance of the fabrication process



1000 1200 Temperature, K



D. Staicu, M. Barker, J. Nucl. Mater. (2013),

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OMICO Rod Gi 2000
Fuel Centre Temperature ( C)

1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 0

power calibration from Dec 2006

measurement MACROS (post-test) Transuranus (post-test) (mod. fuel deformation) Transuranus (blind) Copernic



4000 Time (h)


Personal communication By courtesy of SCK-CEN

Source: Rondinella & Al (JRC-ITU) Paris Thorium technical meeting 2010

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Reference case: SKB spent fuel repository

Bx, Gx: compartments of Bentonite, Granite

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No showstoppers identified for Thorium-based MOX (Th,Pu)O2 to its implementation as a possible LWR-fuel. (Th,Pu)O2 has several advantages over Uranium-based MOX (U,Pu)O2
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Next steps:

Better thermal conductivity (unirradiated data only) Improved chemical stability Indications for improved reactivity margins for full-core PWR (Th,Pu)O2 compared to (U,Pu)O2

Improving the fuel manufacturing technology, since the scoping studies used non-industrial (& non-industrialisable) manufacturing routes; tests on representative fabrications needed  Larger-scale demonstration programs with lead-rod and leadassembly irradiations are needed before licensing
Personal communication By courtesy of SCK-CEN 19

In MSRs thorium cycle can achieve a higher conversion ratio than the uranium/plutonium cycle. MSR avoids some of the loss of conversion efficiency that occurs due to neutron capture events in Pa-233 (Pa-233 has a relatively long half-life of 27 days). The nuclear fuel in MSR is unique in that it circulates through the entire primary circuit and spends only a fraction of its time in the active core. This reduces the time-averaged neutron flux that the Pa-233 sees and significantly reduces the proportion of Pa-233 atoms that are lost to neutron captures MSR continually reprocesses the nuclear fuel as it re-circulates in the primary circuit, removing fission products as they are generated. MSR therefore completely avoids the difficulties in conventional reactors with fabricating U-233 fuels (which have high gamma activities from U-232 daughters). Since the nuclear fuel is a molten salt, there are no fuel mechanical performance issues to consider.
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MSR R&D in Europe and elsewhere
From MOST to EVOL A continuous and coordinated activity (European network) since 2001 MOST
2001-2003 Confirmation of MSR potential Identification of key issues (vs MSBR)
2004-2006 Strenghthening of European network Follow-up of R&D progress 2007-2008 Review of liquid salts for various applications Preparation of European MSR roadmap
6 countries + Euratom 7 countries + Euratom + Russia 7 countries + Euratom + Russia 8 countries + Euratom + Russia 7 countries + Euratom (+ Russia)

from MSBR




 2009
 Feasibility demonstration of MSFR 2009-2012 Optimization of MSFR (remaining weakpoints)
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… to MSFR

Strategic impact of EVOL
A common European Molten Salt Reactor concept for GENIV (major European contribution to the MSR GENIV initiative) Thorium as a nuclear fuel (closed MSR fuel cycle, sustainable energy system) Partitioning & Transmutation (alternative route for P&T compared to solid fuel) Improved understanding of liquid salt properties (MSR technology, but also other industrial processes)

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MSFR concept
MSFR reactor concept (French concept) (Molten Salt Fast Reactor) Initial MSFR fuel composition: X(LiF) = 77.45 mol% X(ThF4) = 20 mol% (LiF-ThF4 eutectic) X(UF4) = 2.55 mol% Operating temperature: Tinlet = 620 °C

MSFR pre-conceptual design,
GIF Annual Report 2009: (MSR)

JRC ITU Molten Salts Database
Molten Salt Database developed at JRC (ITU) (2002-2010): 38 assessed binary systems

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Several EC Projects on Th-MOX fuels mainly for LWRs as « Quasi »-Inert matrix to burn Pu and MAs Thorium salts as fuel for the MSR The SRIA published in 2013 recognises the « significant long-term potentialities and the significant challenges to make industrial implementation » of Thorium systems

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With particular thank to Michel Hugon and Roger Garbil (EC DG RTD, Brussels), Vincenzo Rondinella, Dragos Staicu, Joe Somers (EC JRC, ITU, Karlsruhe) and Marc Verwerft (SCK-CEN) for their assistance in providing all relevant information and comments.

Thorium Conference, CERN