A comparative study of Monte Carlo-coupled depletion codes applied to a Sodium Fast Reactor design loaded with minor actinides
Minor actinides (MAs) transmutation is a main design objective of advanced nuclear systems such as generation IV Sodium Fast Reactors (SFRs). In advanced fuel cycles, MA contents in final high level waste packages are main contributors to short term heat production as well as to long-term radiotoxicity. Therefore, MA transmutation would have an impact on repository designs and would reduce the environment burden of nuclear energy. In order to predict such consequences Monte Carlo (MC) transport codes are used in reactor design tasks and they are important complements and references for routinely used deterministic computational tools. In this paper two promising Monte Carlo transport-coupled depletion codes, EVOLCODE and SERPENT, are used to examine the impact of MA burning strategies in a SFR core, 3600 MWth. The core concept proposal for MA loading in two configurations is the result of an optimization effort upon a preliminary reference design to reduce the reactivity insertion as a consequence of sodium voiding, one of the main concerns of this technology. The objective of this paper is double. Firstly, efficiencies of the two core configurations for MA transmutation are addressed and evaluated in terms of actinides mass changes and reactivity coefficients. Results are compared with those without MA loading. Secondly, a comparison of the two codes is provided. The discrepancies in the results are quantified and discussed. âº Reliable estimations of the reactor core performance using last generation Monte Carlo transport codes. âº Different MA loading patterns explored for a realistic transmutation analysis of MA in a Sodium Fast Reactor. âº Good agreement is observed between SERPENT and EVOLCODE.