Temperature and Burnup Reactivities and Operational Lifetime for the Submersion-Subcritical, Safe Space (S⁴) Reactor


The He-Xe gas-cooled, S^4 reactor has a sectored, Mo-14%Re solid core for avoidance of single point failures in reactor cooling and Closed Brayton Cycle (CBC) energy conversion. The reactor core is loaded with UN fuel and each of its three sectors is thermal-hydraulically coupled to a separate CBC loop and radiator panels. The solid core minimizes voids, and the BeO reflectors are designed to easily disassemble upon impact, ensuring that the bare Slogical and4 reactor is sufficiently subcriticial when submerged in wet sand or seawater and flooded with seawater, following a launch abort accident. Spectral shift absorber (SSA) additives in the core and thin SSA coatings on the outer surface of the core can also be used to ensure subcriticality in such an accident. This paper investigates the effects of various SSAs (Re, Ir, Eu-151, B-10 and Gd-155) on the temperature and burnup reactivity coefficients and the operating lifetime of the Slogical and4 reactor at a steady thermal power of 550 kW. The calculations of the burnup, reactivity feedback coefficient used a mixture of the top 10 light and top 10 heavy fission products plus Sm-149 and are performed for isothermal reactor core and reflector temperatures of 1200 and 900 K. In this fast spectrum space reactor, SSAs markedly increase fuel enrichment and decrease the burnup reactivity coefficient, but only slightly decrease the temperature, reactivity feedback coefficient. with no SSAs, the UN fuel enrichment is lowest (58.5 wt.%), the temperature and burnup reactivity coefficients are the highest (−0.2709 ¢/K and −1.3470 $/at.%), and the estimated operating lifetime is the shortest (7.6 years). The temperature and burnup reactivity coefficients decrease to −0.2649 ¢/K and −1.0230 $/at.%, and the operating lifetime increases to 8.3 years when rhenium additives are used. with europium-151 and gadolinium-155 additions, fuel enrichment (91.5 and 94 wt.%) and operating lifetime (9.9 and 9.8 years) are the highest and both the temperature reactivity feedback coefficient (−0.2382 and −0.2447 ¢/K) and the burnup reactivity coefficient (−0.9073 and −0.8502 $/at.%) are the lowest.


Mining and Nuclear Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Reactor Cooling; Closed Brayton Cycle (CBC); Safe Space (S^4) Reactor

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Nuclear reactors - cores

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2007 Elsevier, All rights reserved.