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Sodium-cooled fast reactor

sodium-24, which has a half-life of 15 hours, decaying to


magnesium-24.

Steam
generator

Turbine

Cold plenum

Generator

Hot plenum
Control
rods

Electrical
power

2.1 Advantages

Heat
exchanger
Condenser

Heat sink

Liquid Metal cooled Fast Breeder Reactors (LMFBR)

Pump
Primary
sodium
(hot)

"Pool" Design

Secondary
sodium

Steam

(to power turbine)

Flow
Baffle

Pump
Pump

"Loop" Design

Control
Rods

Control
rods

Coolant
Level

Core

Primary
sodium
(cold)

Fissile
Core

Fissile
Core

Breeder
Blanket
Reactor
Pool Pump

Breeder
Blanket
Biological
Shielding

Biological
Shielding

Liquid
metal
coolant

Liquid
metal
coolant
Heat
exchanger

Pool type sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR)

Heat
exchanger

Steam
generator

Steam
generator

Water

(from power turbine)


Reactor
pool
(primary coolant)

Intermediate
loop

Powergeneration
loop

Intermediate
loop

Reactor
loop
(primary coolant)

The sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) is a Generation


IV reactor project to design an advanced fast neutron re- Schematic diagram showing the dierence between the Loop and
actor.
Pool designs of a liquid metal fast breeder reactor
It builds on two closely related existing projects, the
LMFBR and the Integral Fast Reactor, with the objective An advantage of liquid metal coolants is high heat capacity which provides thermal inertia against overheating.[1]
of producing a fast-spectrum, sodium-cooled reactor.
Water is dicult to use as a coolant for a fast reactor beThe reactors are intended for use in nuclear power plants
cause water acts as a neutron moderator that slows the
to produce nuclear power from nuclear fuel.
fast neutrons into thermal neutrons. While it may be possible to use supercritical water as a coolant in a fast reactor, this would require a very high pressure. In contrast,
sodium atoms are much heavier than both the oxygen and
1 Fuel cycle
hydrogen atoms found in water, and therefore the neutrons lose less energy in collisions with sodium atoms.
The nuclear fuel cycle employs a full actinide recycle with
Sodium also need not be pressurized since its boiling
two major options: One is an intermediate-size (150600
point is much higher than the reactors operating temperMWe) sodium-cooled reactor with uranium-plutoniumature, and sodium does not corrode steel reactor parts.[1]
minor-actinide-zirconium metal alloy fuel, supported by
The high temperatures reached by the coolant (up to 550
a fuel cycle based on pyrometallurgical reprocessing in
C) permit a higher thermodynamic eciency than in
facilities integrated with the reactor. The second is a
water cooled reactors.[2] The molten sodium, being elecmedium to large (5001,500 MWe) sodium-cooled reactrically conductive, can be pumped by electromagnetic
tor with mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel, supported
pumps.[2]
by a fuel cycle based upon advanced aqueous processing at a central location serving a number of reactors.
The outlet temperature is approximately 510550 de2.2 Disadvantages
grees Celsius for both.

A disadvantage of sodium is its chemical reactivity,


which requires special precautions to prevent and suppress res. If sodium comes into contact with water it
explodes, and it burns when in contact with air. This was
the case at the Monju Nuclear Power Plant in a 1995 accident. In addition, neutrons cause it to become radioactive; however, activated sodium has a half-life of only 15
hours.[1]

Sodium as a coolant

Liquid metallic sodium may be used as the sole coolant,


carrying heat from the core. Sodium has only one stable isotope, sodium-23. Sodium-23 is a very weak absorber of neutrons, the absorption of a neutron producing
1

Design goals

The operating temperature should not exceed the melting temperature of the fuel. Fuel-to-cladding chemical
interaction (FCCI) has to be designed against. FCCI is
eutectic melting between the fuel and the cladding; uranium, plutonium, and lanthanum (a ssion product) interdiuse with the iron of the cladding. The alloy that forms
has a low eutectic melting temperature. FCCI causes the
cladding to reduce in strength and could eventually rupture. The amount of transuranic transmutation is limited
by the production of plutonium from uranium. A design
work-around has been proposed to have an inert matrix.
Magnesium oxide has been proposed as the inert matrix. Magnesium oxide has an entire order of magnitude
smaller probability of interacting with neutrons (thermal
and fast) than elements like iron.[3]
The SFR is designed for management of high-level wastes
and, in particular, management of plutonium and other
actinides. Important safety features of the system include
a long thermal response time, a large margin to coolant
boiling, a primary system that operates near atmospheric
pressure, and intermediate sodium system between the
radioactive sodium in the primary system and the water
and steam in the power plant. With innovations to reduce
capital cost, such as making a modular design, removing a
primary loop, integrating the pump and intermediate heat
exchanger, or simply nd better materials for construction, the SFR can be a viable technology for electricity
generation.[9]

EXTERNAL LINKS

Gas-cooled fast reactor


Generation IV reactor

6 References
[1] Fanning, Thomas H. (May 3, 2007). Sodium as a
Fast Reactor Coolant (PDF). Topical Seminar Series on
Sodium Fast Reactors. Nuclear Engineering Division,
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Department
of Energy.
[2] Bonin, Bernhard; Klein, Etienne (2012). Le nuclaire expliqu par des physiciens.
[3] Bays SE, Ferrer RM, Pope MA, Forget B (February
2008). Neutronic Assessment of Transmutation Target
Compositions in Heterogeneous Sodium Fast Reactor Geometries (PDF). Idaho National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. INL/EXT-07-13643 Rev. 1.
[4] Plus radium (element 88). While actually a sub-actinide, it
immediately precedes actinium (89) and follows a threeelement gap of instability after polonium (84) where no
isotopes have half-lives of at least four years (the longestlived isotope in the gap is radon-222 with a half life of less
than four days). Radiums longest lived isotope, at 1600
years, thus merits the elements inclusion here.
[5] Specically from thermal neutron ssion of U-235, e.g. in
a typical nuclear reactor.

Sodium-cooled reactors have included:

[6] Milsted, J.; Friedman, A. M.; Stevens, C. M. (1965).


The alpha half-life of berkelium-247; a new long-lived
isomer of berkelium-248. Nuclear Physics 71 (2): 299.
doi:10.1016/0029-5582(65)90719-4.
The isotopic analyses disclosed a species of mass 248 in
constant abundance in three samples analysed over a period of about 10 months. This was ascribed to an isomer
of Bk248 with a half-life greater than 9 y. No growth of
Cf248 was detected, and a lower limit for the half-life
can be set at about 104 y. No alpha activity attributable
to the new isomer has been detected; the alpha half-life is
probably greater than 300 y.

Most of these were experimental plants, which are no


longer operational

[7] This is the heaviest isotope with a half-life of at least four


years before the "Sea of Instability".

The SFRs fast spectrum also makes it possible to use


available ssile and fertile materials (including depleted
uranium) considerably more eciently than thermal
spectrum reactors with once-through fuel cycles.

Reactors

Related:
Fast Flux Test Facility, United States, a sodiumcooled fast neutron reactor

See also

[8] Excluding those "classically stable" isotopes with halflives signicantly in excess of 232 Th, e.g. while 113m Cd
has a half-life of only fourteen years, that of 113 Cd is
nearly eight quadrillion.
[9] Lineberry MJ, Allen TR (October 2002). The SodiumCooled Fast Reactor (SFR)" (PDF). Argonne National
Laboratory, US Department of Energy. ANL/NT/CP108933.

Fast breeder reactor


Fast neutron reactor
Integral Fast Reactor
Lead-cooled fast reactor

7 External links
Idaho National Laboratory Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor Fact Sheet

3
Generation IV International Forum SFR website
INL SFR workshop summary
ALMR/PRISM
Richardson JH (November 17, 2009). Meet the
Man Who Could End Global Warming. Esquire.
... Eric Loewen is the evangelist of the sodium fast
reactor, which burns nuclear waste, emits no CO2 ,
...

8 TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

8.1

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