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Title: Fast Neutron Spectrum Potassium Worth for Space Power Reactor Design Validation

A variety of critical experiments were constructed of enriched uranium metal (oralloy ) during the 1960s and 1970s at the Oak Ridge Critical Experiments Facility (ORCEF) in support of criticality safety operations at the Y-12 Plant. The purposes of these experiments included the evaluation of storage, casting, and handling limits for the Y-12 Plant and providing data for verification of calculation methods and cross-sections for nuclear criticality safety applications. These included solid cylinders of various diameters, annuli of various inner and outer diameters, two and three interacting cylinders of various diameters, and graphite and polyethylene reflected cylinders and annuli. Of the hundreds of delayed critical experiments, one was performed that consisted of uranium metal annuli surrounding a potassium-filled, stainless steel can. The outer diameter of the annuli was approximately 13 inches (33.02 cm) with an inner diameter of 7 inches (17.78 cm). The diameter of the stainless steel can was 7 inches (17.78 cm). The critical height of the configurations was approximately 5.6 inches (14.224 cm). The uranium annulus consisted of multiple stacked rings, each with radial thicknesses of 1 inch (2.54 cm) and varying heights. A companion measurement was performed using empty stainless steel cans; the primary purpose ofmore » these experiments was to test the fast neutron cross sections of potassium as it was a candidate for coolant in some early space power reactor designs.The experimental measurements were performed on July 11, 1963, by J. T. Mihalczo and M. S. Wyatt (Ref. 1) with additional information in its corresponding logbook. Unreflected and unmoderated experiments with the same set of highly enriched uranium metal parts were performed at the Oak Ridge Critical Experiments Facility in the 1960s and are evaluated in the International Handbook for Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments (ICSBEP Handbook) with the identifier HEU MET FAST 051. Thin graphite reflected (2 inches or less) experiments also using the same set of highly enriched uranium metal parts are evaluated in HEU MET FAST 071. Polyethylene-reflected configurations are evaluated in HEU-MET-FAST-076. A stack of highly enriched metal discs with a thick beryllium top reflector is evaluated in HEU-MET-FAST-069, and two additional highly enriched uranium annuli with beryllium cores are evaluated in HEU-MET-FAST-059. Both detailed and simplified model specifications are provided in this evaluation. Both of these fast neutron spectra assemblies were determined to be acceptable benchmark experiments. The calculated eigenvalues for both the detailed and the simple benchmark models are within ~0.26 % of the benchmark values for Configuration 1 (calculations performed using MCNP6 with ENDF/B-VII.1 neutron cross section data), but under-calculate the benchmark values by ~7s because the uncertainty in the benchmark is very small: ~0.0004 (1s); for Configuration 2, the under-calculation is ~0.31 % and ~8s. Comparison of detailed and simple model calculations for the potassium worth measurement and potassium mass coefficient yield results approximately 70 – 80 % lower (~6s to 10s) than the benchmark values for the various nuclear data libraries utilized. Both the potassium worth and mass coefficient are also deemed to be acceptable benchmark experiment measurements.« less
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  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Country of Publication:
United States
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; 97 MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTING NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems; Benchmark; HEU; IRPhEP; Oralloy; ORCEF; Potassium; Worth Measurement