AN INTRODUCTION. TO THE ENGINEERING. OF FAST NUCLEAR REACTORS

Anthony M. Judd

It is intended for the newcomer to the study of fast reactors, either as a student or at a later stage of his or her career. It will probably be most useful to someone who already has some knowledge of nuclear reactors. There are many excellent introductory texts for the beginner in nuclear engineering but they all concentrate on thermal reactors. The purpose of this book is to provide an up-to-date account of fast reactors for those who want to take the next step.

Fast reactor technology has become a wide field, so wide that it is not possible to cover all of it in depth in a single book of reason­able length. What I have attempted is to cover the whole in sufficient detail to allow the reader to understand the important features, and to provide suitable references for further study. I have gone into detail on the neutron physics because any fast reactor engineer, whether he or she is a designer, an operator or a researcher, needs to understand how the machinery works at a basic level. I have also attempted to include the results of experience, often hard-won, of operating a fast reactor power station.

I have divided the subject matter up in chapters according to dis­cipline. Chapter 1 about the physics of fast reactors is the most detailed and mathematical. This is to give those who have to use the numbers produced by the complex computer codes that predict reactor per­formance some idea of where they come from. Chapter 2 is mainly about the chemistry of fast reactor fuel. Chapters 3 and 4 are about the application of mainly conventional engineering disciplines to fast reactors so they contain less theoretical detail. In Chapter 5 I have tried to show how safety can be attained by careful attention to detail in design. The Introduction includes an explanation of the difference between fast reactors and thermal reactors and a brief summary of the history of fast reactor development.

I wish to thank Argonne National Laboratory for permission to reproduce Figures 2.19, 2.22 and 2.25.

Many of my colleagues in the atomic energy industry have been very generous in helping me to write this book and its predecessor. They are for too numerous to mention by name. By way of thanks I wish to dedicate this account of the technology to the hundreds of engineers, scientists and technicians whose achievements made pos­sible the success of the British Fast Reactor project, started in 1946 and abandoned prematurely in 1993.

Tony Judd

INTRODUCTION

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