Design of the Core and Primary System

Because MYRRHA is a pool-type ADS, the reactor vessel houses all the primary systems. In previous designs of MYRRHA, an outer vessel served as secondary containment in case the reactor vessel leaks or breaks. In the current design, the reactor pit fulfills this function, improving the capabilities of the reactor vault air cooling system. The vessel is closed by the reactor cover, which supports all the in-vessel components. A diaphragm, inside the vessel, acts to separate the hot and cold LBE plenums; it supports the in-vessel fuel storage (IVFS) and provides a pressure separation. The core is held in place by the core support structure consisting of a core barrel and a core support plate. Figure 7.2 shows vertical cut sections of the MYRRHA reactor showing its main internal components.

At the present state of the design, the reactor core (Fig. 7.3) consists of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel pins, typical for fast reactors. In subcritical mode, the central hexagon houses a window beam tube-type spallation target. Thirty-seven positions can be occupied by in-pile test sections (IPS) or by the spallation target (the central one of the core in subcritical configuration) or by control and shutdown rods (in the core critical configuration). This design gives a large flexibility in the choice of the more suitable position (neutron flux) for each experiment.

The requested high fast flux intensity has been obtained by optimizing the core configuration geometry (fuel rod diameter and pitch) and maximizing the power density. We will be using, for the first core loadings, 15-15Ti stabilized stainless steel as cladding material instead of T91 ferritic-martensitic steel that will be qualified progressively further on during MYRRHA operation for a later use. The use of lead–bismuth eutectic (LBE) as coolant permits lowering the core inlet operating temperature (down to 270 oC), decreasing the risk of corrosion and allowing increasing the core ΔT. This design, together with the adoption of reliable and passive shutdown systems, will allow meeting the high fast flux intensity target. In subcritical mode, the accelerator (as described in the previous section) is the driver of the system. It provides the high-energy protons that are used in the spallation target to create neutrons which in their turn feed the subcritical core. In subcritical mode the spallation target assembly, located in the central position of the

Fig. 7.2 Section of the MYRRHA-FASTEF reactor

core, brings the proton beam via the beam tube into the central core region. The spallation heat deposit is dissipated to the reactor primary circuit. The spallation module guarantees the barrier between the reactor LBE and the reactor hall and ensures optimal conditions for the spallation reaction. The spallation module assembly is conceived as an IPS and is easily removable or replaceable.

The primary, secondary, and tertiary cooling systems have been designed to evacuate a maximum thermal core power of 110 MW. The 10 MW more than the nominal core power account for the power deposited by the protons, for the power of in-vessel fuel, and for the power deposited in the structures by γ-heating. The average coolant temperature increase in the core in nominal conditions is 140 oC with a coolant velocity of 2 m/s. The primary cooling system consists of two pumps and four primary heat exchangers (PHX).

The interference of the core with the proton beam, the fact that the room located directly above the core will be occupied by much instrumentation and IPS penetrations, and core compactness result in insufficient space for fuel handling to (un)load the core from above. Since the very first design of MYRRHA, fuel handling has been performed from underneath the core. Fuel assemblies are kept by buoyancy under the core support plate.

Fig. 7.3 Cut of the MYRRHA-FASTEF core, showing the central target, the different types of fuel assemblies, and dummy components

Two fuel-handling machines are used, located at opposite sides of the core (Fig. 7.4). Each machine covers one side of the core. The use of two machines provides sufficient range to cover the necessary fuel storage positions without the need of an increase for the reactor vessel when only one fuel-handling machine is used. Each machine is based on the well-known fast reactor technology of the 'rotating plug' concept using SCARA (Selective Compliant Assembly Robot Arm) robots. To extract or insert the fuel assemblies, the robot arm can move up or down for about 2 m. A gripper and guide arm is used to handle the FAs: the gripper locks the FA, and the guide has two functions, namely to hold the FA in the vertical orientation and to ensure neighboring FAs are not disturbed when a FA is extracted from the core. An ultrasonic (US) sensor is used to uniquely identify the FAs.

The in-vessel fuel-handling machine will also perform in-vessel inspection and recovery of an unconstrained FA. Incremental single-point scanning of the diaphragm can be performed by an US sensor mounted at the gripper of the IVFHM. The baffle under the diaphragm is crucial for the strategy as it limits the work area where inspection and recovery are needed. It eliminates also the need of additional recovery and inspection manipulators, prevents items from migrating into the space between the diaphragm and the reactor cover, and permits side scanning.

Fig. 7.4 The in-vessel fuel-handling machine

 
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