SUB-LEU-METAL-THERM-001 SUBCRITICAL MEASUREMENTS OF LOW ENRICHED TUBULAR URANIUM METAL FUEL ELEMENTS BEFORE & AFTER IRRADIATION

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With the shutdown of the Hanford PUREX (Plutonium-Uranium Extraction Plant) reprocessing plant in the 1970s, adequate storage capacity for spent Hanford N Reactor fuel elements in the K and N Reactor pools became a concern. To maximize space utilization in the pools, accounting for fuel burnup was considered. Fuel that had experienced a neutron environment in a reactor is known as spent, exposed, or irradiated fuel. In contrast fuel that has not yet been placed in a reactor is known as green, unexposed, or unirradiated fuel. Calculations indicated that at typical fuel exposures for N Reactor, the spent-fuel critical mass ... continued below

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TOFFER, H. July 18, 2006.

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  • Hanford Site (Wash.)
    Publisher Info: Hanford Site (HNF), Richland, WA
    Place of Publication: Richland, Washington

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With the shutdown of the Hanford PUREX (Plutonium-Uranium Extraction Plant) reprocessing plant in the 1970s, adequate storage capacity for spent Hanford N Reactor fuel elements in the K and N Reactor pools became a concern. To maximize space utilization in the pools, accounting for fuel burnup was considered. Fuel that had experienced a neutron environment in a reactor is known as spent, exposed, or irradiated fuel. In contrast fuel that has not yet been placed in a reactor is known as green, unexposed, or unirradiated fuel. Calculations indicated that at typical fuel exposures for N Reactor, the spent-fuel critical mass would be twice the critical mass for green fuel. A decision was reached to test the calculational result with a definitive experiment. If the results proved positive, storage capacity could be increased and N Reactor operation could be prolonged. An experiment to be conducted in the N Reactor spent-fuel storage pool was designed and assembled (References 1 and 2) and the services of the Battelle Northwest Laboratories (BNWL) (now Pacific Northwest National Laboratory [PNNL]) critical mass laboratory were procured for the measurements (Reference 3). The experiments were performed in April 1975 in the Hanford N Reactor fuel storage pool. The fuel elements were MKIA fuel assemblies, comprised of two concentric tubes of low-enriched metallic uranium. Two separate sets of measurements were performed: one with unirradiated fuel and one with irradiated fuel. Both the unirradiated and irradiated fuel, were measured in the same geometry. The spent-fuel MKIA assemblies had an average burnup of 2865 MWd (megawatt days)/t. A constraint was imposed restricting the measurements to a subcritical limit of k{sub eff} = 0.97. Subcritical count rate data was obtained with pulsed-neutron and approach-to-critical measurements. Ten (10) configurations with green fuel and nine (9) configurations with spent fuel are described and evaluated. Of these, three (3) green fuel and four (4) spent fuel loading configurations were considered to serve as benchmark models. However, shortcomings in experimental data, such as the uncertainty in fuel exposure impact on reactivity and the pulse neutron data evaluation methodology, failed to meet the high standards for a benchmark problem. Nevertheless, the data provided by these subcritical measurements supply useful information to analysts evaluating spent fuel subcriticality. The original purpose of the subcritical measurements was to validate computer model predictions that spent N Reactor fuel of a particular, typical exposure (2740 MWd/t) had a critical mass equal to twice that of unexposed fuel of the same type. The motivation for performing this work was driven by the need to increase spent fuel storage limits. These subcritical measurements confirmed the computer model predictions.

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  • Report No.: HNF-29648 Rev 1
  • Grant Number: DE-AC06-96RL13200
  • DOI: 10.2172/888833 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 888833
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc876442

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  • July 18, 2006

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  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Oct. 31, 2016, 9:22 p.m.

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TOFFER, H. SUB-LEU-METAL-THERM-001 SUBCRITICAL MEASUREMENTS OF LOW ENRICHED TUBULAR URANIUM METAL FUEL ELEMENTS BEFORE & AFTER IRRADIATION, report, July 18, 2006; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc876442/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.