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An innovative research reactor design

Nuclear Engineering and Design
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.nucengdes.2008.10.025
  • Design


Abstract A new and innovative core design for a research reactor is presented. It is shown that while using the standard, low enriched uranium as fuel, the maximum thermal flux per MW of power for the core design suggested and analyzed here is greater than those found in existing state of the art facilities without detrimentally affecting the other design specs. A design optimization is also carried out to achieve the following characteristics of a pool type research reactor of 10 MW power: high thermal neutron fluxes; sufficient space to locate facilities in the reflector; and an acceptable life cycle. In addition, the design is limited to standard fuel material of low enriched uranium. More specifically, the goal is to maximize the maximum thermal flux to power ratio in a moderate power reactor design maintaining, or even enhancing, other design aspects that are desired in a modern state of the art multi-purpose facility. The multi-purpose reactor design should allow most of the applications generally carried out in existing multi-purpose research reactors. Starting from the design of the German research reactor, FRM-II, which delivers high thermal neutron fluxes, an azimuthally asymmetric cylindrical core design with an inner and outer reflector, is developed. More specifically, one half of the annular core (0 < θ < π) is thicker than the other half. Two variations of the design are analyzed using MCNP, ORIGEN2 and MONTEBURNS codes. Both lead to a high thermal flux zone, a moderate thermal flux zone, and a low thermal flux zone in the outer reflector. Moreover, it is shown that the inner reflector is suitable for fast flux irradiation positions. The first design leads to a life cycle of 41 days and high, moderate and low (non-perturbed) thermal neutron fluxes of 4.2 × 10 14 n cm −2 s −1, 3.0 × 10 14 n cm −2 s −1, and 2.0 × 10 14 n cm −2 s −1, respectively. Heat deposition in the cladding, coolant and fuel material is also calculated to determine coolant flow rate, coolant outlet temperature and maximum fuel temperature under steady-state operating conditions. Finally, a more compact version of the asymmetric core is developed where a maximum (non-perturbed) thermal flux of 5.0 × 10 14 n cm −2 s −1 is achieved. The core life of this more compact version is estimated to be about 23 days.

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