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Home / Publications / Journals / Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 187 / Number 2

Reactor Neutronics: Impact of Fissile Material

F. Heidet, R. N. Hill

Nuclear Science and Engineering / Volume 187 / Number 2 / August 2017 / Pages 202-211

Technical Paper /

Received:December 15, 2016
Accepted:March 25, 2017
Published:July 11, 2017

Given a wide variety of reactor designs and fuel types, it can be difficult to identify the underlying cause of basic performance differences such as flux level and enrichment requirement. In this paper, using solely the definitions of the core multiplication factor and core power, simple relations have been derived allowing estimates of the flux ratio and fissile material concentration ratio for any reactor concept when 235U is replaced with 239Pu or vice versa. These relations are functions of the neutron nonleakage probability, and one only needs to know the number of neutrons emitted per fission and the fission cross-section ratio between the 235U system and the 239Pu system. It is found that for a reactor concept having significant leakage, the achievable flux level when using 239Pu as fissile material can be up to 45% larger than when using 235U as fissile material, and the required fissile concentration of 239Pu is up to 48% lower than that of 235U to achieve criticality.

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