Strategies for thorium fuel cycle transition in the SD-TMSR

O. Ashraf, Andrei Rykhlevskii, G. V. Tikhomirov, Kathryn D. Huff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Liquid-fueled Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) systems represent advances in safety, economics, and sustainability. The MSR has been designed to operate with a Th/233U fuel cycle with 233U used as startup fissile material. Since 233U does not exist in nature, we must examine other available fissile materials to start up these reactor concepts. This work investigates the fuel cycle and neutronics performance of the Single-fluid Double-zone Thorium-based Molten Salt Reactor (SD-TMSR) with different fissile material loadings at startup: High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) (19.79%), Pu mixed with HALEU (19.79%), reactor-grade Pu (a mixture of Pu isotopes chemically extracted from Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) spent nuclear fuel (SNF) with 33 GWd/tHM burnup), transuranic elements (TRU) from Light Water Reactor (LWR) SNF, and 233U. The MSR burnup routine provided by SERPENT-2 is used to simulate the online reprocessing and refueling in the SD-TMSR. The effective multiplication factor, fuel salt composition evolution, and net production of 233U are studied in the present work. Additionally, the neutron spectrum shift during the reactor operation is calculated. The results show that the continuous flow of reactor-grade Pu helps transition to the thorium fuel cycle within a relatively short time (≈4.5 years) compared to 26 years for 233U startup fuel. Finally, using TRU as the initial fuel materials offers the possibility of operating the SD-TMSR for an extended period of time (≈40 years) without any external feed of 233U.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107656
JournalAnnals of Nuclear Energy
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Burner
  • MSR
  • Monte carlo code
  • Online reprocessing
  • Thorium fuel cycle
  • Transuranic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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