Nuclear data uncertainty quantification and data assimilation for a lead-cooled fast reactor Using integral experiments for improved accuracy

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: For the successful deployment of advanced nuclear systems and optimization of current reactor designs, high quality nuclear data are required. Before nuclear data can be used in applications they must first be evaluated, tested and validated against a set of integral experiments, and then converted into formats usable for applications. The evaluation process in the past was usually done by using differential experimental data which was then complemented with nuclear model calculations. This trend is fast changing due to the increase in computational power and tremendous improvements in nuclear reaction models over the last decade. Since these models have uncertain inputs, they are normally calibrated using experimental data. However, these experiments are themselves not exact. Therefore, the calculated quantities of model codes such as cross sections and angular distributions contain uncertainties. Since nuclear data are used in reactor transport codes as input for simulations, the output of transport codes contain uncertainties due to these data as well. Quantifying these uncertainties is important for setting safety margins; for providing confidence in the interpretation of results; and for deciding where additional efforts are needed to reduce these uncertainties. Also, regulatory bodies are now moving away from conservative evaluations to best estimate calculations that are accompanied by uncertainty evaluations.In this work, the Total Monte Carlo (TMC) method was applied to study the impact of nuclear data uncertainties from basic physics to macroscopic reactor parameters for the European Lead Cooled Training Reactor (ELECTRA). As part of the work, nuclear data uncertainties of actinides in the fuel, lead isotopes within the coolant, and some structural materials have been investigated. In the case of the lead coolant it was observed that the uncertainty in the keff and the coolant void worth (except in the case of 204Pb), were large, with the most significant contribution coming from 208Pb. New 208Pb and 206Pb random nuclear data libraries with realistic central values have been produced as part of this work. Also, a correlation based sensitivity method was used in this work, to determine parameter - cross section correlations for different isotopes and energy groups.Furthermore, an accept/reject method and a method of assigning file weights based on the likelihood function are proposed for uncertainty reduction using criticality benchmark experiments within the TMC method. It was observed from the study that a significant reduction in nuclear data uncertainty was obtained for some isotopes for ELECTRA after incorporating integral benchmark information. As a further objective of this thesis, a method for selecting benchmark for code validation for specific reactor applications was developed and applied to the ELECTRA reactor. Finally, a method for combining differential experiments and integral benchmark data for nuclear data adjustments is proposed and applied for the adjustment of neutron induced 208Pb nuclear data in the fast energy region.

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