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Title: High-Fidelity Modelng and Simulation for a High Flux Isotope Reactor Low-Enriched Uranium Core Design

Abstract

A high-fidelity model of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) with a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel design and a representative experiment loading has been developed to serve as a new reference model for LEU conversion studies. With the exception of the fuel elements, this HFIR LEU model is completely consistent with the current highly enriched uranium HFIR model. Results obtained with the new LEU model provide a baseline for analysis of alternate LEU fuel designs and further optimization studies. The newly developed HFIR LEU model has an explicit representation of the HFIR-specific involute fuel plate geometry, including the within-plate fuel meat contouring, and a detailed geometry model of the fuel element side plates. Such high-fidelity models are necessary to accurately account for the self-shielding from 238U and the depletion of absorber materials present in the side plates. In addition, a method was developed to account for fuel swelling in the high-density LEU fuel plates during the depletion simulation. In conclusion, calculated time-dependent metrics for the HFIR LEU model include fission rate and cumulative fission density distributions, flux and reaction rates for relevant experiment locations, point kinetics data, and reactivity coefficients.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1366377
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 187; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0029-5639
Publisher:
American Nuclear Society - Taylor & Francis
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
22 GENERAL STUDIES OF NUCLEAR REACTORS; High Flux Isotope Reactor; LEU conversion; fuel swelling

Citation Formats

Betzler, Benjamin R., Chandler, David, Davidson, Eva E., and Ilas, Germina. High-Fidelity Modelng and Simulation for a High Flux Isotope Reactor Low-Enriched Uranium Core Design. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1080/00295639.2017.1292090.
Betzler, Benjamin R., Chandler, David, Davidson, Eva E., & Ilas, Germina. High-Fidelity Modelng and Simulation for a High Flux Isotope Reactor Low-Enriched Uranium Core Design. United States. doi:10.1080/00295639.2017.1292090.
Betzler, Benjamin R., Chandler, David, Davidson, Eva E., and Ilas, Germina. Mon . "High-Fidelity Modelng and Simulation for a High Flux Isotope Reactor Low-Enriched Uranium Core Design". United States. doi:10.1080/00295639.2017.1292090. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1366377.
@article{osti_1366377,
title = {High-Fidelity Modelng and Simulation for a High Flux Isotope Reactor Low-Enriched Uranium Core Design},
author = {Betzler, Benjamin R. and Chandler, David and Davidson, Eva E. and Ilas, Germina},
abstractNote = {A high-fidelity model of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) with a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel design and a representative experiment loading has been developed to serve as a new reference model for LEU conversion studies. With the exception of the fuel elements, this HFIR LEU model is completely consistent with the current highly enriched uranium HFIR model. Results obtained with the new LEU model provide a baseline for analysis of alternate LEU fuel designs and further optimization studies. The newly developed HFIR LEU model has an explicit representation of the HFIR-specific involute fuel plate geometry, including the within-plate fuel meat contouring, and a detailed geometry model of the fuel element side plates. Such high-fidelity models are necessary to accurately account for the self-shielding from 238U and the depletion of absorber materials present in the side plates. In addition, a method was developed to account for fuel swelling in the high-density LEU fuel plates during the depletion simulation. In conclusion, calculated time-dependent metrics for the HFIR LEU model include fission rate and cumulative fission density distributions, flux and reaction rates for relevant experiment locations, point kinetics data, and reactivity coefficients.},
doi = {10.1080/00295639.2017.1292090},
journal = {Nuclear Science and Engineering},
number = 1,
volume = 187,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon May 08 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Mon May 08 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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Cited by: 2works
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  • This report documents progress made during fiscal year 2007 in studies of converting the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) from highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium fuel (LEU). Conversion from HEU to LEU will require a change in fuel form from uranium oxide to a uranium-molybdenum alloy. A high volume fraction U/Mo-in-Al fuel could attain the same neutron flux performance as with the current, HEU fuel but materials considerations appear to preclude production and irradiation of such a fuel. A diffusion barrier would be required if Al is to be retained as the interstitial medium and themore » additional volume required for this barrier would degrade performance. Attaining the high volume fraction (55 wt. %) of U/Mo assumed in the computational study while maintaining the current fuel plate acceptance level at the fuel manufacturer is unlikely, i.e. no increase in the percentage of plates rejected for non-compliance with the fuel specification. Substitution of a zirconium alloy for Al would significantly increase the weight of the fuel element, the cost of the fuel element, and introduce an as-yet untried manufacturing process. A monolithic U-10Mo foil is the choice of LEU fuel for HFIR. Preliminary calculations indicate that with a modest increase in reactor power, the flux performance of the reactor can be maintained at the current level. A linearly-graded, radial fuel thickness profile is preferred to the arched profile currently used in HEU fuel because the LEU fuel media is a metal alloy foil rather than a powder. Developments in analysis capability and nuclear data processing techniques are underway with the goal of verifying the preliminary calculations of LEU flux performance. A conceptual study of the operational cost of an LEU fuel fabrication facility yielded the conclusion that the annual fuel cost to the HFIR would increase significantly from the current, HEU fuel cycle. Though manufacturing can be accomplished with existing technology, several engineering proof-of-principle tests would be required. The RERTR program is currently conducting a series of generic fuel qualification tests at the Advanced Test Reactor. A review of these tests and a review of the safety basis for the current, HEU fuel cycle led to the identification of a set of HFIR-specific fuel qualification tests. Much additional study is required to formulate a HFIR-specific fuel qualification plan from this set. However, one such test - creating a graded fuel profile across a flat foil - has been initiated with promising results.« less
  • This report documents progress made during FY 2008 in studies of converting the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) from highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Conversion from HEU to LEU will require a change in fuel form from uranium oxide to a uranium-molybdenum alloy. With axial and radial grading of the fuel foil and an increase in reactor power to 100 MW, calculations indicate that the HFIR can be operated with LEU fuel with no degradation in reactor performance from the current level. Results of selected benchmark studies imply that calculations of LEU performance are accurate.more » Scoping experiments with various manufacturing methods for forming the LEU alloy profile are presented.« less
  • This report documents progress made during FY 2009 in studies of converting the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) from high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Conversion from HEU to LEU will require a change in fuel form from uranium oxide to a uranium-molybdenum alloy. With axial and radial grading of the fuel foil and an increase in reactor power to 100 MW, calculations indicate that the HFIR can be operated with LEU fuel with no degradation in reactor performance from the current level. Results of selected benchmark studies imply that calculations of LEU performance aremore » accurate. Studies are reported of the application of a silicon coating to surrogates for spheres of uranium-molybdenum alloy. A discussion of difficulties with preparing a fuel specification for the uranium-molybdenum alloy is provided. A description of the progress in developing a finite element thermal hydraulics model of the LEU core is provided.« less
  • This report documents progress made during FY 2010 in studies of converting the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) from high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Conversion from HEU to LEU will require a change in fuel form from uranium oxide to a uranium-molybdenum alloy. With axial and radial grading of the fuel foil and an increase in reactor power to 100 MW, calculations indicate that the HFIR can be operated with LEU fuel with no degradation in performance to users from the current level. Studies are reported of support to a thermal hydraulic test loopmore » design, the implementation of finite element, thermal hydraulic analysis capability, and infrastructure tasks at HFIR to upgrade the facility for operation at 100 MW. A discussion of difficulties with preparing a fuel specification for the uranium-molybdenum alloy is provided. Continuing development in the definition of the fuel fabrication process is described.« less
  • Neutronics and thermal-hydraulics studies show that, for equivalent operating power [85 MW(t)], a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel cycle based on uranium-10 wt % molybdenum (U-10Mo) metal foil with radially, “continuously graded” fuel meat thickness results in a 15% reduction in peak thermal flux in the beryllium reflector of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) as compared to the current highly enriched uranium (HEU) cycle. The uranium-235 content of the LEU core is almost twice the amount of the HEU core when the length of the fuel cycle is kept the same for both fuels. Because the uranium-238 content of anmore » LEU core is a factor of 4 greater than the uranium-235 content, the LEU HFIR core would weigh 30% more than the HEU core. A minimum U-10Mo foil thickness of 84 μm is required to compensate for power peaking in the LEU core although this value could be increased significantly without much penalty. The maximum U-10Mo foil thickness is 457μm. Annual plutonium production from fueling the HFIR with LEU is predicted to be 2 kg. For dispersion fuels, the operating power for HFIR would be reduced considerably below 85 MW due to thermal considerations and due to the requirement of a 26-d fuel cycle. If an acceptable fuel can be developed, it is estimated that $140 M would be required to implement the conversion of the HFIR site at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from an HEU fuel cycle to an LEU fuel cycle. To complete the conversion by fiscal year 2014 would require that all fuel development and qualification be completed by the end of fiscal year 2009. Technological development areas that could increase the operating power of HFIR are identified as areas for study in the future.« less