With the rapid development of nuclear energy, thorium has been gaining attention because of its abundant reserves and excellent physical properties. Compared with light-water reactors, block-type high temperature gas cooled reactors (HTRs) are a better choice for thorium-based fuel for higher burnup and harder neutron spectrum. When using thorium in block-type HTRs, the composition and spatial distribution of thorium/uranium fuels are two determined factors of nuclear performance. Four spatial separation levels of thorium/uranium fuels, no separation level, TRISO level, channel level, and block level, are defined for the block-type thorium-fueled HTRs. A two-step calculation scheme was used to obtain the neutronic performance, including the initial inventory of U-235, effective multiplication factor, and average conversion ratio. Based on these data, the fuel cycle cost of different spatial separation levels can be calculated by the levelized lifetime cost method as a function of thorium content. The fuel cycle cost changes with the same trend as the initial inventory of U-235 in the reactor cores because the latter determines 70% of the total cost. When the thorium content is constant, the initial inventory of U-235 decreases with the increase of the spatial separation level because spatial self-shielding effect is strengthened by the latter.
Part of the book: Recent Improvements of Power Plants Management and Technology