Development of a Novel Fuel Burnup Methodology and Algorithm in RAPID and its Benchmarking and Automation

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Virginia Tech

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.

burnup, depletion, neutron transport, spent nuclear fuel, fission matrix, RAPID