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Technology assessment HTR: pt. 4: power upscaling of High TemperatureReactors
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ECN NUC 1996
ECN publicatienummer: Publicatie type:
ECN-C--96-044 ECN rapport
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Designs of nuclear reactors can be classified in evolutionary,revolutionary and innovative designs. An innovative design is the High Temperature Reactor (HTR). Introduction of innovative reactors has not been successful until now. Globally, three requirements for this reactors for successful market introduction can be identified: (1) Societal support for nuclear energy, or if separable, for this reactor type, should be repaired; (2) After market introduction the innovative plant must be able to operate economically competitive; and (3) The costs of market introduction of an innovative reactor design must be limited. Until now all reactor designs classified as innovative have not yet been realized. High temperature reactors exist in many different designs. Common features are: helium coolant, graphite moderator and coated particle fuel. The combination of these creates the potential to fulfill the first requirement (public support), and similarly a hurdle to the second requirement (economical operation). All three problems existing in the eyes of the public are addressed, while a high degree of transparency is reached, making the design understandable also by others than nuclear experts. A consequence of designing according to the social support requirement is a limitation of the unit power level. The usual method to make nuclear power plants economically competitive, i.e. just raising the power level (economy of scale) could not be applied anymore. Therefore other means of cost decreasing had to be used: modularization and simplification. These ideas are explained. Since all existing HTRs are currently out of operation, additional experience from two small HTRs under construction at this moment in the Far East will be essential. In the history of HTR designs, an evolutionary path can be identified. The early designs had a philosophy of safety and economics very similar to those of LWR. Modularization was introduced to attain economic viability and the design was simplified further by elimination of on-line fuel element removal and safety relevant control rods. These designs (GHR and peu a peu) are described. 9 figs, 11 tabs, 41 refs.

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