Shortly after the loading of a pressurized water reactor (PWR) core, the axial power distribution in fresh fuel has already attained the characteristic, almost flat shape, typical of burned fuel. At beginning of cycle (BOC), however, the axial distribution is centrally peaked. In assemblies hosting uniform burnable boron rods, this BOC peaking is even more pronounced. A reduction in the axial peaking is today often achieved by shortening the burnable boron rods by some 30 cm at each edge.
It is shown that a two-zone grading of the boron rod leads, in a representative PWR cycle, to a reduction of the hot-spot temperature of ~70°C, compared with the nongraded case. However, with a proper three-zone grading of the boron rod, an additional 20°C may be cut off the hot-spot temperature. Further, with a slightly skewed application of this three-zone grading, an additional 50°C may be cut off.
The representative PWR cycle studied was cycle 11 of the Indian Point 2 station, with a simplification in the number of fuel types and in the burnup distribution. The analysis was based on a complete three-dimensional burnup calculation. The code system was ELCOS, with BOXER as an assembly code for the generation of burnup-dependent cross sections and SILWER as a three-dimensional core code with thermal-hydraulic feedback.