DOES CRITICAL MASS DECREASE AS TEMPERATURE INCREASES: A REVIEW OF FIVE BENCHMARK EXPERIMENTS THAT SPAN A RANGE OF ELEVATED TEMPERATURES AND CRITICAL CONFIGURATIONS

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Five sets of benchmark experiments are reviewed herein that cover a diverse set of fissile system configurations. The review specifically focused on the change in critical mass of these systems at elevated temperatures and the temperature reactivity coefficient ({alpha}{sub T}) on the system. Because plutonium-based critical benchmark experiments at varying temperatures were not found at the time this review was prepared, only uranium-based systems are included, as follows: (1) HEU-SOL-THERM-010 - UO{sub 2}F{sub 2} solutions with high U{sup 235} enrichment; (2) HEU-COMP-THERM-016 - uranium-graphite blocks with low U concentration; (3) LEU-COMP-THERM-032 - water moderated lattices of UO{sub 2} with stainless ... continued below

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Yates, K. June 10, 2009.

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Five sets of benchmark experiments are reviewed herein that cover a diverse set of fissile system configurations. The review specifically focused on the change in critical mass of these systems at elevated temperatures and the temperature reactivity coefficient ({alpha}{sub T}) on the system. Because plutonium-based critical benchmark experiments at varying temperatures were not found at the time this review was prepared, only uranium-based systems are included, as follows: (1) HEU-SOL-THERM-010 - UO{sub 2}F{sub 2} solutions with high U{sup 235} enrichment; (2) HEU-COMP-THERM-016 - uranium-graphite blocks with low U concentration; (3) LEU-COMP-THERM-032 - water moderated lattices of UO{sub 2} with stainless steel cladding, and intermediate U{sup 235} enrichment; (4) IEU-COMP-THERM-002 - water moderated lattices of annular UO{sub 2} with/without absorbers, and intermediate U{sup 235} enrichment; and (5) LEU-COMP-THERM-026 - water moderated lattices of UO{sub 2} at different pitches, and low U{sup 235} enrichment. In three of the five benchmarks (1, 3 and 5), modeling of the critical system at room temperature is conservative compared to modeling the system at elevated temperatures, i.e., a greater fissile mass is required at elevated temperature. In one benchmark (4), there was no difference in the fissile mass between the room temperature system and the system at the examined elevated temperature. In benchmark (2), the system clearly had a negative temperature reactivity coefficient. Some of the high temperature benchmark experiments were treated with appropriate (and comprehensive) adjustments to the cross section sets and thermal expansion coefficients, while other experiments were treated with partial adjustments. Regardless of the temperature treatment, modeling the systems at room temperature was found to be conservative for the examined systems, i.e., a smaller critical mass was obtained. While the five benchmarks presented herein demonstrate that, for the conditions examined, modeling of the systems at room temperature is conservative as compared to modeling the systems at elevated temperatures, it is possible to design a system in which the critical mass at room temperature is non-conservative compared to a system at elevated temperatures. As the temperature of the systems evaluated in this review was increased, the system's overall {alpha}{sub T} was negative at elevated temperatures. Furthermore, the review demonstrates that to accurate asses the effect of increased temperature on a system's k{sub eff}, changes in fissile, moderator, cladding, and, in some cases, structural material cross sections must be combined with other factors that influence reactivity, such as volumetric thermal expansion of fissile, moderating, reflector, and other interacting media. Altering the microscopic cross sections of fissile and moderating regions for temperature changes, without adjusting the corresponding densities at elevated temperatures can lead to an incorrect assessment of the impact of elevated temperature on a fissile system.

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  • Report No.: SRNS-TR-2009-00218
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • DOI: 10.2172/957030 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 957030
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc933634

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  • June 10, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 3:48 p.m.

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Yates, K. DOES CRITICAL MASS DECREASE AS TEMPERATURE INCREASES: A REVIEW OF FIVE BENCHMARK EXPERIMENTS THAT SPAN A RANGE OF ELEVATED TEMPERATURES AND CRITICAL CONFIGURATIONS, report, June 10, 2009; South Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc933634/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.