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Micro-heterogeneous ThO2-UO2 Duplex Fuel: Wizardry of Thorium for Long Life SMR

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Micro-heterogeneous fuel geometries is a compromise position between homogeneous and heterogeneous approaches and can be achieved in micro-heterogeneous ThO2-UO2 duplex fuel. In this concept, the uranium and thorium components are not blended and are discretely interspersed on very small distance scales. For instance, an individual fuel pin might be composed of a uranium centre surrounded by an annulus of thorium in a typical PWR fuel pin geometry. Previous studies found that the spatial separation between the fissile U-235 and the fertile thorium enables better moderation of the fission neutrons before they interact with the thorium. This spectral shift encourages neutron absorption in the thorium component of the fuel at the beginning of life, helps controlling reactivity and promotes breeding of new fissile material U-233. A limited number of studies of duplex fuel are available in the public domain, but its use has never been examined in the context of an SBF environment for a long-life core. Therefore, we will assume duplex fuel, loaded with a single-batch strategy and assess its feasibility in a series of reactor physics simulations. This talk will describe the underlying physics of this exotic fuel candidate.

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