Reducing the Impact of Used Fuel by Transmuting Actinides in a CANDU Reactor
International Conference on the Future of Heavy Water Reactors - 2011 October 02-05

Presented at:
International Conference on the Future of Heavy Water Reactors
2011 October 02-05
Ottawa, Canada
Session Title:

Bronwyn Hyland (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
Geoff W.R. Edwards (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)


With world stockpiles of used nuclear fuel increasing, the need to address the long term utilization of this resource is being studied.  Many of the transuranic (TRU) actinides in nuclear spent fuel produce decay heat for long durations, resulting in significant nuclear waste management challenges.  These actinides can be transmuted to shorter-lived isotopes in CANDU® reactors to reduce the decay heat period.

Many of the design features of the CANDU reactor make it uniquely adaptable to actinide transmutation.  The small, simple fuel bundle facilitates the fabrication and handling of active fuels.  Online refueling allows precise management of core reactivity and separate insertion of the actinides and fuel bundles into the core.  The high neutron economy of the CANDU reactor results in high TRU destruction to fissile-loading ratio.

This paper provides a summary of actinide transmutation in CANDU reactors, including both recent and past activities[1]-[4].  The transmutation schemes that are presented reflect several different partitioning schemes and include both homogeneous scenarios in which actinides are uniformly distributed in all fuel bundles in the reactor, as well as heterogeneous scenarios in which dedicated channels in the reactor are loaded with actinide targets and the rest of the reactor is loaded with fuel.

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