• Received : 2013.09.23
  • Accepted : 2013.10.02
  • Published : 2013.11.25


Energy security is a topic of high importance to many countries throughout the world. Countries with access to vast energy supplies enjoy all of the economic and political benefits that come with controlling a highly sought after commodity. Given the desire to diversify away from fossil fuels due to rising environmental and economic concerns, there are limited technology options available for baseload electricity generation. Further complicating this issue is the desire for energy sources to be sustainable and globally scalable in addition to being economic and environmentally benign. Nuclear energy in its current form meets many but not all of these attributes. In order to address these limitations, TerraPower, LLC has developed the Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) which is a near-term deployable and truly sustainable energy solution that is globally scalable for the indefinite future. The fast neutron spectrum allows up to a ~30-fold gain in fuel utilization efficiency when compared to conventional light water reactors utilizing enriched fuel. When compared to other fast reactors, TWRs represent the lowest cost alternative to enjoy the energy security benefits of an advanced nuclear fuel cycle without the associated proliferation concerns of chemical reprocessing. On a country level, this represents a significant savings in the energy generation infrastructure for several reasons 1) no reprocessing plants need to be built, 2) a reduced number of enrichment plants need to be built, 3) reduced waste production results in a lower repository capacity requirement and reduced waste transportation costs and 4) less uranium ore needs to be mined or purchased since natural or depleted uranium can be used directly as fuel. With advanced technological development and added cost, TWRs are also capable of reusing both their own used fuel and used fuel from LWRs, thereby eliminating the need for enrichment in the longer term and reducing the overall societal waste burden. This paper describes the origins and current status of the TWR development program at TerraPower, LLC. Some of the areas covered include the key TWR design challenges and brief descriptions of TWR-Prototype (TWR-P) reactor. Selected information on the TWR-P core designs are also provided in the areas of neutronic, thermal hydraulic and fuel performance. The TWR-P plant design is also described in such areas as; system design descriptions, mechanical design, and safety performance.



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