In October 2010, a series of benchmark experiments were conducted at the French Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA) Valduc SILENE facility. These experiments were a joint effort between the United States Department of Energy Nuclear Criticality Safety Program and the CEA. The purpose of these experiments was to create three benchmarks for the verification and validation of radiation transport codes and evaluated nuclear data used in the analysis of criticality accident alarm systems.
This series of experiments consisted of three single-pulsed experiments with the SILENE reactor. For the first experiment, the reactor was bare (unshielded), whereas in the second and third experiments, it was shielded by lead and polyethylene, respectively. The polyethylene shield of the third experiment had a cadmium liner on its internal and external surfaces, which vertically was located near the fuel region of SILENE. During each experiment, several neutron activation foils and thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) were placed around the reactor. Nearly half of the foils and TLDs had additional high-density magnetite concrete, high-density barite concrete, standard concrete, and/or BoroBond shields. CEA Saclay provided all the concrete, and the US Y-12 National Security Complex provided the BoroBond.
Measurement data from the experiments were published at the 2011 International Conference on Nuclear Criticality (ICNC 2011) and the 2013 Nuclear Criticality Safety Division (NCSD 2013) topical meeting. Preliminary computational results for the first experiment were presented in the ICNC 2011 paper, which showed poor agreement between the computational results and the measured values of the foils shielded by concrete. Recently the hydrogen content, boron content, and density of these concrete shields were further investigated within the constraints of the previously available data. New computational results for the first experiment are now available that show much better agreement with the measured values.