Re-evaluation of spent nuclear fuel assay data for the Three Mile Island unit 1 reactor and application to code validation

by Ian C. Gauld, Joseph M. Giaquinto, Jeffrey S. Delashmitt, Jianwei Hu, Germina Ilas, T. J. Haverlock, Catherine E. Romano


Destructive radiochemical assay measurements of spent nuclear fuel rod segments from an assembly irradiated in the Three Mile Island unit 1 (TMI-1) pressurized water reactor have been performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Assay data are reported for five samples from two fuel rods of the same assembly. The TMI-1 assembly was a 15 × 15 design with an initial enrichment of 4.013 wt% 235U, and the measured samples achieved burnups between 45.5 and 54.5 gigawatt days per metric ton of initial uranium (GWd/t). Measurements were performed mainly using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry after elemental separation via high performance liquid chromatography. High precision measurements were achieved using isotope dilution techniques for many of the lanthanides, uranium, and plutonium isotopes. Measurements are reported for more than 50 different isotopes and 16 elements. One of the two TMI-1 fuel rods measured in this work had been measured previously by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), and these data have been widely used to support code and nuclear data validation. The recent measurements performed by ORNL provided an important opportunity to independently cross check results against previous measurements performed at ANL. These measurements serve to improve confidence in the data, to verify reported uncertainties, and to investigate previous anomalies noted in the plutonium measurements. The measured nuclide concentrations are used to validate burnup calculations using the SCALE nuclear systems modeling and simulation code suite. These results show that the new measurements provide reliable benchmark data for computer code validation.

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Publication Citation

Annals of Nuclear Energy 2016 87, Part 2 (January 2016) pp 267-281
DOI: 10.1016/j.anucene.2015.08.026