The concept of a graphite-moderating rod-inserted sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) fuel assembly is proposed in this study to achieve a low sodium void reactivity coefficient. Using this concept, two types of SFR cores are analyzed; the proposed SFR type 1 core has new SFR fuel assemblies at the inner/mid core regions while the proposed SFR type 2 core has a B4C absorber sandwich in the middle of the active core region as well as new SFR fuel assemblies at the inner/mid core regions. For the proposed SFR core designs, neutronics and thermal-hydraulic analyses are performed using the DIF3D, REBUS3, and the MATRA-LMR codes.
In the neutronics analysis, the sodium void reactivity coefficient is obtained in various void situations. The two types of proposed core designs reduce the sodium void reactivity coefficient by about 960-1030 pcm compared to the reference design. However, the TRU enrichment for the proposed SFR core designs is increased. In the thermal hydraulic analysis, the temperature distributions are calculated for the two types of proposed core designs and the mass flow rate is optimized to satisfy the design constraints for the highest power generating assembly.
The results of this study indicate that the proposed SFR assembly design concept, which adopts graphite-moderating rods which are inserted into the fuel assembly, can feasibly minimize the sodium void reactivity coefficient. Single TRU enrichment and an identical fuel slug diameter throughout the SFR core are also achieved because the radial power peak can be flattened by varying the number of moderating rods in each core region.