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Split-Cell Exponential Characteristic Transport Method for Unstructured Tetrahedral Meshes

Charles R. Brennan, Rodney L. Miller, Kirk A. Mathews

Nuclear Science and Engineering

Volume 138 / Number 1 / May 2001 / Pages 26-44


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The nonlinear, exponential characteristic (EC) method is extended to unstructured meshes of tetrahedral cells in three-dimensional Cartesian coordinates. The split-cell approach developed for the linear characteristic (LC) method on such meshes is used. Exponential distributions of the source within a cell and of the inflow flux on upstream faces of the cell are assumed. The coefficients of these distributions are determined by nonlinear root solving so as to match the zeroth and first moments of the source or entering flux. Good conditioning is achieved by casting the formulas for the moments of the source, inflow flux, and solution flux as sums of positive functions and by using accurate and robust algorithms for evaluation of those functions. Various test problems are used to compare the performance of the EC and LC methods. The EC method is somewhat less accurate than the LC method in regions of net out leakage but is strictly positive and retains good accuracy with optically thick cells, as in shielding problems, unlike the LC method. The computational cost per cell is greater for the EC method, but the use of substantially coarser meshes can make the EC method less expensive in total cost. The EC method, unlike the LC method, may fail if negative cross sections or angular quadrature weights are used. It is concluded that the EC and LC methods should be practical, reliable, and complimentary schemes for these meshes.

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