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Neutronic Analysis of the Oregon State TRIGA Reactor in Support of Conversion from HEU Fuel to LEU Fuel

M. R. Hartman, S. T. Keller, S. R. Reese, B. Robinson, J. Stevens, J. E. Matos, W. R. Marcum, T. S. Palmer, B. G. Woods

Nuclear Science and Engineering

Volume 174 / Number 2 / June 2013 / Pages 135-149


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In support of the conversion of the Oregon State TRIGA Reactor (OSTR) from highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, a comprehensive neutronic analysis utilizing MCNP5 was performed on the HEU and LEU core configurations. The initial 1974 HEU core provided an opportunity for verification of the MCNP5 baseline model; all fuel elements in the initial core were congruent in geometry and material composition, having no burnup. In addition, a substantial database of core parameters was documented during the initial HEU core start-up. This verification study examined control rod worth, core excess reactivity, burnup, core power, power per element, temperature coefficient of reactivity, void coefficient of reactivity, moderator coefficient of reactivity, axial and radial power profiles, prompt-neutron lifetime, effective delayed-neutron fraction, power defect, and xenon poisoning.

Fuel material composition and core loadings are presented. The excellent comparison between the numerical results and the experimental data of the initial HEU core established an objective, credible baseline model and methodology, which were then extended to the LEU core neutronic analysis. Comparison between the numerically calculated core physics values for the new LEU core and data collected during start-up provided a complete verification that the MCNP5 models developed for both the HEU and LEU cores were representative of the OSTR.

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