High-Fidelity Modeling and Simulation for a High Flux Isotope Reactor Low-Enriched Uranium Core Design

by Benjamin R. Betzler, David Chandler, Eva E. Davidson (nee Sunny), Germina Ilas


A high-fidelity model of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) with a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel design and a representative experiment loading has been developed to serve as a new reference model for LEU conversion studies. With the exception of the fuel elements, this HFIR LEU model is completely consistent with the current highly enriched uranium HFIR model. Results obtained with the new LEU model provide a baseline for analysis of alternate LEU fuel designs and further optimization studies.

The newly developed HFIR LEU model has an explicit representation of the HFIR-specific involute fuel plate geometry, including the within-plate fuel meat contouring, and a detailed geometry model of the fuel element side plates. Such high-fidelity models are necessary to accurately account for the self-shielding from 238U and the depletion of absorber materials present in the side plates. In addition, a method was developed to account for fuel swelling in the high-density LEU fuel plates during the depletion simulation. Calculated time-dependent metrics for the HFIR LEU model include fission rate and cumulative fission density distributions, flux and reaction rates for relevant experiment locations, point kinetics data, and reactivity coefficients.

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Publication Citation

Nuclear Science and Engineering 2017 187 (1) pp 81-99 June 27, 2017