The reactor is designed to be fool proof against nuclear proliferation. There is no possibility that any ill intentioned group can misuse the reactor for military purposes.
The non-proliferation characteristics of the Fixed Bed Nuclear Reactor (FBNR) is based on both the extrinsic concept of sealing and the intrinsic concept of isotope denaturing. Its small spherical fuel elements are confined in a fuel chamber that can be sealed by the authorities for inspection at any time. Only the fuel chamber is needed to be transported from the fuel factory to the site and back. There is no possibility of neutron irradiation to any external fertile material. Isotopic denaturing of the fuel cycle either in the U-233/Th or Pu-239/U cycle increases the proliferation resistance substantially. Therefore, both concepts of “sealing” and “isotope denaturing” contribute to the fool proof non-proliferation characteristics of the proposed reactor.
Under the present world conditions, the first priority of the governments in relation to nuclear energy is non-proliferation and safeguard of the nuclear reactors. This provides a challenge for us to come up with a fool proof nuclear reactor concept.
Small nuclear reactors without the need for on-site refuelling have greater simplicity, better compliance with passive safety systems, and are more adequate for countries with small electric grids and limited investment capabilities. The Fixed Bed Nuclear Reactor (FBNR) is thoroughly based on the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) technology, but incorporates the fuel of High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) and the concept of a suspended fixed bed core. FBNR has an integrated primary circuit and is simple in design. It has the characteristics of being small, modular, inherently safe and passively cooled reactor with reduced adverse environmental impact. The spherical fuel elements are fixed in the suspended core by the flow of water coolant. Any malfunction in the reactor system will cut off the power to the coolant pump causing a stop in the flow. This results in making the fuel elements fall out of the reactor core by the force of gravity and become stored in the passively cooled fuel chamber under sub critical condition.
The objective is to conceive the FBNR in such a manner that it become a fool proof reactor from non-proliferation and safeguard points of view.
The proposed reactor meets the IAEA requirements for non-proliferation. The concept is based on both sealing of the fuel chamber and denaturing of the fuel itself.
The sealing of the fuel in the fuel chamber of a long life reactor, permits the control at any time from “cradle to grave” allowing the continuity of knowledge (COK) about the fuel which guarantees an effective control.
The isotopic denaturing of the fissile fuel, both in the U-233/Thorium cycle as well as for the classical Pu-239/Uranium cycle, would further increase the proliferation resistance as it will require isotope separation technology to produce weapon grade materials.
In this way both intrinsic features and extrinsic proliferation resistance measures are provided. The Continuity of Knowledge (COK) and the communication between stakeholders are facilitated due to the nature of the design. The proposed reactor can utilize variety of fuel cycles and can benefit from a Multilateral Fuel Cycle concept.
In conclusion, the FBNR can be considered as a fool proof reactor against nuclear proliferation that the present world is looking for to be assured of both safety and safeguard.
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