The reproduction factor of Th232 is high in the thermal energy range and there is a possibility to achieve the breeding in LWRs. However, it is necessary to improve the conversion ratio since the breeding is difficult in LWRs. The conversion ratio can be improved by suppressing capture rate of Pa233 and by promoting capture rate of Th232. In addition, these capture rates can be modified by adding neutron absorber. Therefore, the neutron absorber is focused for improving the conversion ratio in this study.
The high resonance peaks of Pa233 capture cross section exist around 1∼100 eV. The resonance peaks of Th232 are higher than 10 eV. Thus, when the 1∼10 eV neutrons are suppressed in the fuel, the Pa233 resonance capture reaction is suppressed and the Th232 resonance capture reaction is promoted by neutron spectrum hardening. Therefore, six neutron absorbers that have high capture cross section peaks at 1∼10 eV were selected. The PWR pin cell calculations were carried out by Monte Carlo code MVP. The fuels are composed of a base material and an absorber. The base material is an oxidized fuel composed of U233(10 wt%), Th232(89.95 wt%), and Pa233(0.05 wt%). The amount of neutron absorber was adjusted so that the infinite multiplication factor becomes 1.33.
The impact of adding neutron absorber on the reaction rate was evaluated. As the result, the hardening of the neutron spectrum leads increase of the capture rate of Pa233, and the capture rate of Th232 in the epithermal energy range is increased. The change of capture rate of Th232 is greater than that of Pa232. Therefore, the conversion ratio is found to be improved by adding neutron absorber.