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Development of a Novel Fuel Burnup Methodology and Algorithm in RAPID and its Benchmarking and Automation
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Fuel burnup calculations provide material concentrations and intrinsic neutron and gamma source strengths as a function of irradiation and cooling time. Detailed, full-core 3D burnup calculations are critical for nuclear fuel management studies, including core design and spent fuel storage safety and safeguards analysis. For core design, specifically during refueling, full- core pin-wise, axially-dependent burnup distributions are necessary to determine assembly positioning to efficiently utilize fuel resources. In spent fuel storage criticality safety analysis, detailed burnup distributions enable best-estimate analysis which allows for more effective utilization of storage space. Additionally, detailed knowledge of neutron and gamma source distributions provide the ability to ensure nuclear material safeguards. The need for accurate and efficient burnup calculations has become more urgent for the simulation of advanced reactors and monitoring and safeguards of spent fuel pools. To this end, the Virginia Tech Transport Theory Group (VT3G) has been working on advanced computational tools for accurate modeling and simulation of nuclear systems in real-time. These tools are based on the Multi-stage Response-function Transport (MRT) methodology. For monitoring and safety evaluation of spent fuel pools and casks, the RAPID (Real-time Analysis for Particle transport and In-situ Detection) code system has been developed. This dissertation presents a novel methodology and algorithm for performing 3D fuel bur- nup calculations, referred to as bRAPID- Burnup with RAPID . bRAPID utilizes the existing RAPID code system for accurate calculation of 3D fission source distributions as the trans- port calculation tool to drive the 3D burnup calculation. bRAPID is capable of accurately and efficiently calculating assembly-wise axially-dependent fission source and burnup dis- tributions, and irradiated-fuel properties including material compositions, neutron source, gamma source, spontaneous fission source, and activities. bRAPID performs 3D burnup calculations in a fraction of the time required by state-of-the-art methodologies because it utilizes a pre-calculated database of response functions. The bRAPID database pre-calculation procedure, and its automation, is presented. The ex- isting RAPID code is then benchmarked against the MCNP and Serpent Monte Carlo codes for a spent fuel pool and the U.S. Naval Academy Subcritical Reactor facility. RAPID is shown to accurately calculate eigenvalue, subcritical multiplication, and 3D fission source dis- tributions. Finally, bRAPID is compared to traditional, state-of-the art Serpent Monte Carlo burnup calculations and its performance will be evaluated. It is important to note that the automated pre-calculation proceedure is required for evaluating the performance of bRAPID. Additionally, benchmarking of the RAPID code is necessary to understand RAPID's ability to solve problems with variable burnups distributions and to asses its accuracy.
General Audience Abstract
In a nuclear reactor, the energy released from a fission reaction, the splitting of an atomic nucleus into smaller parts, is harnessed to generate electricity. Nuclear reactors rely on fuel, typically comprised of uranium oxide (UO₂). While the reactor is operating and the fuel is being used, or “burned”, for power production it is undergoing numerous nuclear reactions, including fission, and radioactive decays which alter the material composition. Knowing the time evolution of fuel as it is burned in the reactor, i.e., concentration of isotopes and sources of radiation, is critical. Nuclear reactor designers and operators use this information to optimize power production and perform safety analysis of used nuclear fuel. By performing fuel burnup calculations, material concentrations and radiation source strengths are obtained as a function of time in an operating nuclear reactor. Using traditional computational techniques, these calculations are extremely time consuming and, for certain problems, can be difficult to obtain an accurate solution. Ideally, a reactor designer would like to know the three-dimensional (3D) distribution of material compositions and sources; however this level of detail would require an excessive amount of calculation time, therefore simplified models and assumptions are used. For the design of the new generation of nuclear reactors, and monitoring and safeguards analysis, this level of detail will be required in lieu of the availability of experimental facilities which do not currently exist. This dissertation presents a novel methodology and algorithm for performing accurate 3D fuel burnup calculations in real-time, referred to as bRAPID (Burnup with RAPID). bRAPID utilizes an existing nuclear software, RAPID (Real-time Analysis for Particle transport and In-situ Detection), developed in the Virginia Tech Transport Theory Group (VT3G), which has been shown to accurately solve time-independent nuclear calculations in significantly less time than traditional approaches. bRAPID is capable of accurately calculating 3D material and source distributions as a function of time in an operating nuclear reactor, and requires significantly less time and computational resources than traditional approaches. To ensure that bRAPID is relatively easy to use, a number of automated routines have been developed and are presented. RAPID is benchmarked against the traditional code systems MCNP (Monte Carlo N-Particle) and Serpent, both of which are widely used in the nuclear community, for a spent fuel storage pool and the U.S. Naval Academy subcritical nuclear reactor facility. RAPID is shown to accurately calculate system parameters (eigenvalue and subcritical multiplication factor) and 3D fission source distributions. Finally, bRAPID is compared to the traditional burnup approach, using the Serpent code system. bRAPID is shown to accurately calculate system parameters and 3D material and source distributions in significantly less time than the traditional approach.
- Doctoral Dissertations