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Design of J-PARC Transmutation Experimental Facility

Abstract After the Fukushima accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, nuclear transmutation acquired much interest as an effective option of nuclear waste management. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) proposes the transmutation of minor actinides by an accelerator-driven system (ADS) using lead–bismuth eutectic alloy (Pb-Bi) as a spallation target and a coolant of the subcritical core. The current ADS design has 800 MWth of rated power, which is driven by a 20 MW proton LINAC, to transmute minor actinides generated from 10 units of standard light water reactors.

To obtain the data required for ADS design, including the European MYRRHA project, JAEA plans to build a Transmutation Experimental Facility (TEF) within the framework of the J-PARC project. TEF consists of two buildings: one is an ADS target test facility (TEF-T), in which will be installed a high-power Pb-Bi spallation target, and the other is the Transmutation Physics Experimental Facility (TEF-P), which will set up a fast critical/subcritical assembly driven by a low-power proton beam. TEF will be located at the end of the 400 MeV LINAC of J-PARC and accept a 250-kW proton beam with repetition rate of 25 Hz. As major research and development items of TEF-T, irradiation tests for structural materials and engineering tests for Pb-Bi applications to determine the effective lifetime of the proton beam window will be performed. The reference design parameter, that considers operating conditions of the ADS transmutor, was determined by thermal-hydraulic analyses and structural analyses. When the target operates with full-power beam, a fast neutron spectrum field is formed around the target, and it is possible to apply multipurpose usage. Various research plans have been proposed, and layout of the experimental hall surrounding the target is under way. Basic physics application such as measurements of nuclear reaction data is considered as one of the major purposes.

Keywords Accelerator-driven system • J-PARC • Transmutation • Transmutation Experimental Facility


After the Fukushima accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, public interest in the management of radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuels has increased. The Science Council of Japan recommends prioritizing research and developments to reduce the radiological burden of high-level wastes by transmutation technology.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) proceeded with R&D to reduce the radiological hazard of high-level wastes by partitioning and transmutation (P-T) technology [1]. In the framework of the J-PARC project, JAEA also promoted constructing the Transmutation Experimental Facility (TEF) to study minor actinide (MA) transmutation by both fast reactors and accelerator-driven systems [2]. TEF is located at the end of the LINAC, which is also an important component to be developed for future ADS, and shares the proton beam with other experimental facilities used for material sciences, life sciences, and high-energy nuclear physics.

The TEF (Fig. 8.1) consists of two buildings, the Transmutation Physics Experimental Facility (TEF-P) [3] and the ADS Target Test Facility (TEF-T) [4]. Two facilities are connected by the proton beam line with a low-power beam extraction mechanism using a laser beam [5]. TEF-P is a facility with zero-power critical assembly wherein a low-power proton beam is available to study the reactor physics and the controllability of accelerator-driven systems (ADS). It also has availability for measuring the reaction cross sections of MA and structural materials, for example. TEF-T is planned as an irradiation test facility that can accept a maximum 400 MeV–250 kW proton beam to the lead-bismuth (Pb-Bi) spallation target. Using these two facilities, the basic physical properties of a subcritical system and engineering tests of a spallation target are to be studied.

R&Ds for important technologies required to build the facilities are also performed, such as laser charge exchange technique to extract a very low power proton beam for reactor physics experiments, a remote handling method to load MA-bearing fuel into the critical assembly, and a spallation product removal method especially for the polonium. The objectives and construction schedule of the facilities, the latest design concept, and key technologies to construct TEF are under way.

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