Researchers establish a principle of a hybrid thorium reactor

Scientists  develop  a  principle  of  a  hybrid  thorium  reactor
Fuel block and a cross-section of the thorium reactor core. Credit: Tomsk Polytechnic University

Russian scientists have proposed a idea of a thorium hybrid reactor in that acquires extra neutrons utilizing high-temperature plasma held in a long magnetic trap. This job was applied in close partnership between Tomsk Polytechnic University, All-Russian Scientific Research Study Institute Of Technical Physics (VNIITF), and Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics of SB RAS. The proposed thorium hybrid reactor is distinguished from today’s nuclear reactors by moderate power, fairly compact size, high operational security, and a low level of radioactive waste.

“At the preliminary phase, we get relatively cold utilizing special plasma weapons. We retain the quantity by deuterium gas injection. The injected neutral beams with particle energy of 100 keV into this plasma generate the high-energy deuterium and tritium ions and maintain the needed temperature level. Colliding with each other, deuterium and tritium ions are integrated into a helium nucleus so high-energy neutrons are launched. These neutrons can freely pass through the walls of the vacuum chamber, where the plasma is held by a magnetic field, and going into the location with nuclear fuel. After slowing down down, they support the fission of heavy nuclei, which serves as the main source of energy launched in the hybrid , ” states professor Andrei Arzhannikov, a chief researcher of Budker Institute of Nuclear Physics of SB RAS.

The main advantage of a hybrid nuclear combination reactor is the simultaneous use of the fission response of heavy nuclei and synthesis of light ones. It lessens the disadvantages of using these nuclear responses independently.

Also, this type of reactor has lower requirements for plasma quality and makes it possible to change up to 95 percent of fissile uranium with thorium, which ensures the impossibility of an uncontrollable nuclear response. Moreover, hybrid reactors are reasonably compact, have high power, and produce a small amount of radioactive waste.

“The hybrid reactor consists of 2 aspects. The main part is the energy-generating blanket as the active zone of a nuclear reactor. It distributes nuclear fissile material that is part of nuclear fuel. Due to this, a fission chain response of heavy nuclei is possible. The 2nd part is placed inside the blanket to produce neutrons that fall into the energy-generating blanket. The atomic combination responses are produced inside this part filled with deterium plasma, launching the neutrons. A feature of the hybrid reactor is that the operating blanket, where the fission responses take location, is in the subcritical state (near-critical). Operating at a consistent power level, a standard reactor is in a , supported by a control and security system, ” says Igor Shamanin, the head of the TPU D ivision of Natural Sciences and the TPU I sotope Analysis and Innovation Laboratory.

According to Dr. Shamanin, the blanket was based on a principle of a multi-purpose high-temperature gas-cooled low-power reactor sustained by thorium. This principle was developed at Tomsk Polytechnic University and now it is commonly represented in numerous scientific publications.

Currently, the job individuals are considering the alternative to establish an speculative stand based on the TPU reactor, which will consist of a thorium fuel assembly and a source.

The results of current studies on this task are published in the journal Plasma and Fusion Research.

Demonstration of alpha particle confinement ability in helical combination plasmas

More info:
Andrey V. Arzhannikov et al. Fuel Advancement in Hybrid Reactor Based on Thorium Subcritical Assembly with Open Trap as Blend Neutron Source (Computer Simulations),
Plasma and Combination Research (2019).
DOI: 10.1585/pfr.14.2402101

Scientists develop a concept of a hybrid thorium reactor (2020, January 29)
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