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A Comparison of Pulsing Characteristics of the Oregon State University TRIGA Reactor with FLIP and LEU Fuel

W. R. Marcum, T. S. Palmer, B. G. Woods, S. T. Keller, S. R. Reese, M. R. Hartman

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 171 / Number 2 / June 2012 / Pages 150-164

The Oregon State TRIGA Reactor (OSTR) was converted from highly enriched uranium (HEU) Fuel Life Improvement Program (FLIP) fuel to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel in October 2008. This effort was driven by the U.S. Department of Energy's Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactor program. The new LEU fuel is 30/20 U-Zr1.6H (30% uranium in the fuel matrix, 19.75 wt% enriched) in contrast to the FLIP fuel having U-Zr1.6H (8.5% uranium in the fuel matrix, 70 wt% enriched). This new fuel composition provides the best match in performance of the available mixture ratios when compared to the previous FLIP fuel. To support conversion, a complete assessment and reevaluation of the OSTR Safety Analysis Report was performed. This evaluation included steady-state thermal-hydraulic and neutronics characterizations of the HEU and LEU cores as well as a transient behavior (pulse) analysis of both core types.

This paper presents a summary of the methods used and results produced during the pulse analysis identifying power, temperature, and reactivity during pulsed operation for the FLIP and new LEU fuel. This analysis was performed using RELAP5-3D version 2.4.2 and point reactor kinetics simulation software; these two methods are found to agree very well. We discuss the differences between the two fuels and the impact of pulse behavior on the safety limits for the converted reactor.

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