The objective of the present study is to show that it is feasible to establish the breed-and-burn (B&B) mode of operation with rotational fuel shuffling in the S-PRISM core based on neutronic and thermal-hydraulic analyses. The results quantified the impact of major core design choices on the criticality of a core that uses sodium as a coolant material and HT9 steel as structural material. The design variables examined include the binary metallic fuel U-Zr with different weight percentages of zirconium as well as different core heights and fuel rod pitch-to-diameter ratios (P/Ds) in the fuel assembly. We found that a core using the binary metallic fuel U-Zr with 2 wt% zirconium, with a core height of 200 cm, a P/D of 1.086, and a core power of 400 MW(thermal), could overcome some major design constraints.
It was also found that with shuffling intervals of 1125 to 1250 days, the core with rotational fuel shuffling was critical in the equilibrium state, and the possible average discharged burnup was from 274.8 to 305.3 GWd/ton HM. Reactor characteristics such as neutron flux and power profile were almost stable during the equilibrium cycle. A steady-state thermal-hydraulic analysis was performed for the hottest channel in the core. It revealed that both the fuel and cladding maximum temperatures were less than the melting point of the fuel and the chemical interaction temperature of the HT-9, respectively. The mixed coolant outlet temperature was somewhat below the temperature usually observed in sodium-cooled fast reactors. Thus, it appears that the S-PRISM can be principally designed to have a B&B core.