Submersion-Subcritical Safe Space (S⁴) Reactor


The Submersion-Subcritical Safe Space (S4) reactor, developed for future space power applications and avoidance of single point failures, is presented. The S4 reactor has a Mo-14% Re solid core, loaded with uranium nitride fuel, cooled by He-30% Xe and sized to provide 550 kWth for 7 years of equivalent full power operation. The beryllium oxide reflector of the S4 reactor is designed to completely disassemble upon impact on water or soil. The potential of using Spectral Shift Absorber (SSA) materials in different forms to ensure that the reactor remains subcritical in the worst-case submersion accident is investigated. Nine potential SSAs are considered in terms of their effect on the thickness of the radial reflector and on the combined mass of the reactor and the radiation shadow shield. The SSA materials are incorporated as a thin (0.1 mm) coating on the outside surface of the reactor core and as core additions in three possible forms: 2.0 mm diameter pins in the interstices of the core block, 0.25 mm thick sleeves around the fuel stacks and/or additions to the uranium nitride fuel. Results show that with a boron carbide coating and 0.25 mm iridium sleeves around the fuel stacks the S4 reactor has a reflector outer diameter of 43.5 cm with a combined reactor and shadow shield mass of 935.1 kg. The S4 reactor with 12.5 at.% gadolinium-155 added to the fuel, 2.0 mm diameter gadolinium-155 sesquioxide interstitial pins, and a 0.1 mm thick gadolinium-155 sesquioxide coating has a slightly smaller reflector outer diameter of 43.0 cm, resulting in a smaller total reactor and shield mass of 901.7 kg. with 8.0 at.% europium-151 added to the fuel, along with europium-151 sesquioxide for the pins and coating, the reflector's outer diameter and the total reactor and shield mass are further reduced to 41.5 cm and 869.2 kg, respectively.


Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science

Keywords and Phrases

Single Point Failures; Submersion-Subcritical Safe Space (S4) Reactor; Spectral Shift Absorber (SSA) Materials

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Article - Journal

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© 2006 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2006