This chapter describes the various families of reactors in which the primary fluid cooling the core is a gas, usually carbon dioxide or helium.
Early on, gas cooling was mostly used in graphite moderated reactors fueled with natural uranium, the British Magnox, and the French natural uranium graphite gas (NUGG). The availability of low enriched uranium fuel allowed the British to develop the advanced gas-cooled reactor as a successor to the Magnox.
In a world progressively dominated by the water cooled reactors, mostly PWR and BWR, gas cooling remained alive in the high temperature reactor families, prismatic, and pebble bed HTR, associated with graphite moderation. Both are based on the use of a very innovative fuel element, the coated particle.
The same fuel was used in a seldom known US program to develop nuclear propulsion for rockets: this NERVA story will be briefly recalled.
Still marginal, gas cooling is also present among the “Generation IV” concepts, through the very high temperature reactor system aimed at both electricity generation and hydrogen production and the GFR, gas cooled fast neutrons reactor.
KeywordsFuel Element Spend Fuel Uranium Dioxide Reactor Pressure Vessel Fissile Material
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