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Criticality Safety Validation of SCALE 6.1

Publication Type
Technical Report

The computational bias of criticality safety computer codes must be established through the validation of the codes to critical experiments. A large collection of suitable experiments has been vetted by the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiment Program (ICSBEP) and made available in the International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments (IHECSBE). A total of more than 350 cases from this reference have been prepared and reviewed within the Verified, Archived Library of Inputs and Data (VALID) maintained by the Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The performance of the KENO V.a and KENO-VI Monte Carlo codes within the SCALE 6.1 code system with ENDF/B-VII.0 cross-section data in 238-group and continuous energy is assessed using the VALID models of benchmark experiments. The TSUNAMI tools for sensitivity and uncertainty analysis are utilized to examine some systems further in an attempt to identify potential causes of unexpected results.

The critical experiments available for validation of the KENO V.a code cover eight different broad categories of systems. These systems use a range of fissile materials including a range of uranium enrichments, various plutonium isotopic vectors, and mixed uranium/plutonium oxides. The physical form of the fissile material also varies and is represented as metal, solutions, or arrays of rods or plates in a water moderator. The neutron energy spectra of the systems also vary and cover both fast and thermal spectra. Over 300 of the total cases used utilize the KENO V.a code.

The critical experiments available for the validation of the KENO-VI code cover three broad categories of systems. The fissile materials in the systems vary and include high- and intermediate-enrichment uranium and mixed uranium/plutonium oxides. The physical form of the fissile material is either metal or rod arrays in water. As with KENO V.a, both fast and thermal neutron energy spectra are represented in the systems considered.

The results indicate generally good performance of both the KENO V.a and KENO-VI codes across the range of systems analyzed. The bias of calculated keff from expected values is less than 0.9% Δk in all cases. All eight categories of experiments show biases of less than 0.5% Δk in KENO V.a with the exception of intermediate enrichment metal systems using the 238-group library. The continuous energy library generally manifests lower biases than the multigroup data. The KENO-VI results show slightly larger biases, though this may primarily be the result of modeling systems with more geometric complexity, which are more difficult to describe accurately, even with a generalized geometry code like KENO-VI.

Several additional conclusions can be drawn from the results of this validation effort. These conclusions include that the TSUNAMI tools can be used successfully to explain the cause of aberrant results, that some evaluations in the IHECSBE should be updated to provide more rigorous expected keff values and uncertainties, and that potential cross-section errors can be identified by detailed review of the results of this validation. It also appears that the overall cross-section uncertainty as quantified through the SCALE covariance library is overestimated. Overall, the KENO V.a and KENO-VI codes are shown to provide consistent, low-bias results for a wide range of physical systems of potential interest in criticality safety applications.