Early Career Seminar: Challenges to Overcome towards the HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion of Research and Test Reactors

The conversion of research and test reactors from the use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) to the use of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) fuel (235U/U < 20wt%) is a Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) program that is a continuation of the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactor (RERTR) program begun in 1978 under the technical leadership of ANL. Argonne remains a leader of the global effort. As of today, more than 85 reactors have been converted or shutdown prior to conversion but the most challenging reactors remain to be converted.

Conversion analyses begin by intensive benchmarking of models by comparison to measurements of the existing HEU cores and against other codes. After satisfactory benchmarking, feasibility analyses to design a new LEU fuel element are performed. In order to succeed, the core performance and safety margins must be preserved despite the greatly increased uranium loading.  Designing an LEU reactor for manufacturing and utilization costs, while at the same time requiring minimum modifications of the facilities are also core principles of conversions.

While these “conversion principles” are common among conversions in the program, the fact that the remaining reactors to be converted have unique and exotic designs makes each conversion distinctly complex. The seminar will present some examples of technical challenges and proposed solutions to overcome them:

May 30, 2013 at 10:00am in Bldg. 402 Gallery. Lunch for NE attendees will be provided after the seminar.

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