Investigation of Burnup Credit Modeling Issues Associated with BWR Fuel

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Although significant effort has been dedicated to the study of burnup-credit issues over the past decade, U.S. studies to-date have primarily focused on spent pressurized-water-reactor (PWR) fuel. The current licensing approach taken by the U.S. Department of Energy for burnup credit in transportation seeks approval for PWR fuel only. Burnup credit for boiling-water-reactor (BWR) fuel has not yet been formally sought. Burnup credit for PWR fuel was pursued first because: (1) nearly two-thirds (by mass) of the total discharged commercial spent fuel in the United States is PWR fuel, (2) it can substantially increase the fuel assembly capacity with respect ... continued below

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Wagner, J.C. October 12, 2000.

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Description

Although significant effort has been dedicated to the study of burnup-credit issues over the past decade, U.S. studies to-date have primarily focused on spent pressurized-water-reactor (PWR) fuel. The current licensing approach taken by the U.S. Department of Energy for burnup credit in transportation seeks approval for PWR fuel only. Burnup credit for boiling-water-reactor (BWR) fuel has not yet been formally sought. Burnup credit for PWR fuel was pursued first because: (1) nearly two-thirds (by mass) of the total discharged commercial spent fuel in the United States is PWR fuel, (2) it can substantially increase the fuel assembly capacity with respect to current designs for PWR storage and transportation casks, and (3) fuel depletion in PWRs is generally less complicated than fuel depletion in BWRs. However, due to international needs, the increased enrichment of modern BWR fuels, and criticality safety issues related to permanent disposal within the United States, more attention has recently focused on spent BWR fuel. Specifically, credit for fuel burnup in the criticality safety analysis for long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel enables improved design efficiency, which, due to the large mass of fissile material that will be stored in the repository, can have substantial financial benefits. For criticality safety purposes, current PWR storage and transportation canister designs employ flux traps between assemblies. Credit for fuel burnup will eliminate the need for these flux traps, and thus, significantly increase the PWR assembly capacity (for a fixed canister volume). Increases in assembly capacity of approximately one-third are expected. In contrast, current BWR canister designs do not require flux traps for criticality safety, and thus, are already at their maximum capacity in terms of physical storage. Therefore, benefits associated with burnup credit for BWR storage and transportation casks may be limited to increasing the enrichment capacity and/or decreasing the neutron absorber concentration. However, regulations associated with permanent disposal require consideration of scenarios and/or package conditions that are not relevant or credible for storage or transportation, and as a result, necessitate credit for burnup in BWR fuel to maintain capacity objectives. Burnup credit relies on depletion calculations to provide a conservative estimate of spent fuel contents and subsequent criticality calculations to assess the value of k{sub eff} for a spent fuel cask or a fuel configuration under a variety of postulated conditions. Therefore, validation is necessary to quantify biases and uncertainties between analytic predictions and measured isotopics. However, the design and operational aspects of BWRs result in a more heterogeneous and time-varying reactor configuration than those of PWRs. Thus, BWR spent fuel analyses and validation efforts are significantly more complicated than those of their PWR counterparts. BWR spent fuel assemblies are manufactured with variable enrichments, both radially and axially, are exposed to time- and spatially-varying void distributions, contain integral burnable absorber rods, and are subject to partial control-blade insertion during operation. The latter is especially true in older fuel assemblies. Away-from-reactor depletion tools used for characterization of spent fuel have typically been developed and validated for more homogeneous PWR fuel assemblies without integral burnable absorber rods, and thus must be reassessed for BWR configurations to determine a conservative methodology for estimating the isotopic content of spent BWR fuel. This report examines the use of SAS2H8 for calculating spent BWR fuel isotopics for burnup-credit criticality safety analyses and assesses the adequacy of SAS2H for this task. The effects of SAS2H modeling assumptions on calculated spent BWR fuel isotopics and the effects of depletion assumptions on calculated k{sub inf} values are investigated. Detailed two-dimensional (2-D) HELIOS9 assembly calculations are compared to one-dimensional (1-D) cylindrical approximations performed using the SAS2H sequence of SCALE.10 SAS2H uses a 1-D transport solution (XSDRNPM) to generate three-group fuel-averaged fluxes, which are used in the point depletion ORIGEN-S code. Studies focused on the effect of geometric modeling with approximate 1-D models and the effect of variations in relevant depletion parameters are presented.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 12 Oct 2000

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-1999/193
  • Grant Number: AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/814444 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 814444
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc738213

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  • October 12, 2000

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • March 31, 2016, 1:21 p.m.

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Wagner, J.C. Investigation of Burnup Credit Modeling Issues Associated with BWR Fuel, report, October 12, 2000; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc738213/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.