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Reactor Physics Scoping and Characterization Study on Implementation of TRIGA Fuel in the Advanced Test Reactor

Jennifer A. Lyons, Wade R. Marcum, Sean Morrell, Mark DeHart

Nuclear Technology / Volume 189 / Number 2 / February 2015 / Pages 202-217

Technical Note / Fission Reactors /

First Online Publication:December 15, 2014
Updated:January 29, 2015

The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) is conducting scoping studies for the conversion of its fuel from a highly enriched uranium (HEU) composition to a low-enriched uranium (LEU) composition, through the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors Program, within the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. These studies have considered a wide variety of LEU plate-type fuels to replace the current HEU fuel. Continuing to investigate potential alternatives to the present HEU fuel form, this study presents a preliminary reactor physics scoping and feasibility analysis of TRIGA fuel within the current ATR fuel element envelope and compares it to the functional requirements delineated by the Naval Reactors Program, which includes >4.8×1014 fissions/s·g−1 of 235U in test positions, a fast–to–thermal neutron flux ratio that has a <5% deviation from its current value, a desired steady cycle power within the corner lobes, and an operational cycle length of 56 days at 120 MW. Other design parameters outside those put forth by the Naval Reactors Program that are investigated herein include axial and radial power profiles, effective delayed neutron fraction, and mean neutron generation time. The result of this study demonstrates potential promise for implementation of TRIGA fuel in the ATR from a reactor physics perspective; discussion of observations and limitations are provided herein.

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