Description: Although significant data has been obtained on the condition and composition of the fuel containing masses (FCM) located in the concrete chambers under the Chernobyl Unit 4 reactor cavity, there is still uncertainty regarding the possible recriticality of this material. The high radiation levels make access extremely difficult, and most of the samples are from the FCM surface regions. There is little information on the interior regions of the FCM, and one cannot assume with confidence that the surface measurements are representative of the interior regions. Therefore, reasonable assumptions on the key parameters such as fuel concentration, the concentrations of impurities and neutron poisons (especially boron), the void fraction of the FCM due to its known porosity, and the degrees of fuel heterogeneity, are necessary to evaluate the possibility of recriticality. The void fraction is important since it introduces the possibility of water moderator being distributed throughout the FCM. Calculations indicate that the addition of 10 to 30 volume percent (v/o) water to the FCM has a significant impact on the calculated reactivity of the FCM. Therefore, water addition must be considered carefully. The other possible moderators are graphite and silicone dioxide. As discussed later in this paper, silicone dioxide moderation does not represent a criticality threat. For graphite, both heterogeneous fuel arrangements and very large volume fractions of graphite are necessary for a graphite moderated system to go critical. Based on the observations and measurements of the FCM compositions, these conditions do not appear creditable for the Chernobyl FCM. Therefore, the focus of the analysis reported in this paper will be on reasonable heterogeneous fuel arrangements and water moderation. The analysis will evaluate a range of fuel and diluent compositions.
Date: October 14, 1998
Creator: Turski, R. B.
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