Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 158 / Number 3 / March 2008 / Pages 231-243
Calculations based on the characteristics method and different self-shielding models are presented for 9 × 9 boiling water reactor (BWR) assemblies fully loaded with mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. The geometry of these assemblies was recovered from the BASALA experimental program. We have focused our study on three configurations simulating the different voiding conditions that an assembly can undergo in a BWR pressure vessel. A parametric study was carried out with respect to the spatial discretization, the tracking parameters, and the anisotropy order. Comparisons with Monte Carlo calculations in terms of keff, radiative capture, and fission rates were performed to validate the computational tools. The results are in good agreement between the stochastic and deterministic approaches. The mutual self-shielding model recently introduced within the framework of the Ribon extending self-shielding method appears to be useful for this type of assemblies. Indeed, in the calculation of these MOX benchmarks, the overlapping of resonances, especially between 238U and 240Pu, plays an important role due to the spectral strengthening of the flux as the voiding percentage is increased. The method of characteristics is shown to be adequate to perform accurate calculations handling a fine spatial discretization.