An Introduction to the Fundamentals Important to the Utilization of Plutonium in Thermal Reactors

E.A. Eschbach - Hanford Laboratories
in plutonium production reactors, plutonium is the principal product; in power reactors, it is a by-product. As a by-product, it can be solid or it can be recycled as a fuel in the same power reactor. both methods reduce the cost of power. The cost of power in a reactor may often be reduced by purchasing using additions plutonium. The use of plutonium will allow the maximum burn up of uranium because of plutonium is formed from U-238 which constitutes 99.3 percent of natural uranium and cannot be directly used as a prime chain reacting fuel. The balance of natural uranium is U-235 (0.7 percent), the only naturally occurring material that can be fissioned readily and can be maintain a chain reaction. This discussion is mainly concerned with the utilization of plutonium in thermal reactors using U-238 fertile fuel. The selection of subjects presented was made to provide information as to the difference between plutonium and uranium fueling. To accomplish this, a review of general nuclear reactor process terms is made.