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Actinide nitride-fueled reactor and continuous method of operating the same

Image Number 4 for United States Patent #4234383.

An actinide nitride-fueled nuclear reactor and a method of operation therefor, including continuous in situ removal of fission products and optional addition of fuel-forming actinide material as the reaction proceeds. The reactor employed has a fuel system comprising a critical mass of a nitride of an actinide metal in contact with a non-critical solution of the actinide metal in a molten metal solvent of low neutron adsorption cross section such as tin, said fuel system being maintained under a nitrogen atmosphere in an inert, refractory vessel such as graphite which is non-conducive to the formation of actinide oxides. Fission products formed are continuously exchanged with the actinide metal dissolved in the molten metal solvent as the nuclear reaction proceeds, with equivalent amounts of actinide nitride being formed and precipitated into the critical mass as fission products are dissolved in the molten metal solution. Temperature excursions tend to be suppressed by the nitride decomposition which ensues as temperatures are increased without any balancing increase in nitrogen pressures to restore the equilibrium.

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