Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Steady State Modeling of the Minimum Critical Core of the Transient Reactor Test Facility

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  • With the advent of next generation reactor systems and new fuel designs, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has identified the need for the resumption of transient testing of nuclear fuels. The DOE has decided that the Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is best suited for future testing. TREAT is a thermal neutron spectrum, air-cooled, nuclear test facility that is designed to test nuclear fuels in transient scenarios. These specific scenarios range from simple temperature transients to full fuel melt accidents. DOE desires a simulation capability that will accurately model the experiments before they are irradiated at the facility. It is the aim for this capability to have an emphasis on effective and safe operation while minimizing experimental time and cost. The multiphysics platform MOOSE has been selected as the framework for this project. The goals of this thesis are to investigate the fundamental neutronics properties of TREAT and to develop an accurate steady state model for future multiphysics transient simulations. To minimize computational cost, the effects of spatial and angular homogenization approaches were investigated. A high degree of anisotropy is present in TREAT assemblies and to capture this effect, explicit modeling of cooling channels and interassembly gaps is necessary. Single assembly calculations at 293 K gave power distributions 0.076% different than that of reference Monte Carlo (SERPENT) calculations. The minimum critical core configuration with identical gap and channel treatment at 293 K resulted in a root mean square, axially integrated radial power distribution difference of 0.22% compared to reference SERPENT solutions.
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