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Use of Sensitivity and Uncertainty Analysis to Select Benchmark Experiments for the Validation of Computer Codes and Data

K. R. Elam, B. T. Rearden

Nuclear Science and Engineering

Volume 145 / Number 2 / October 2003 / Pages 196-212


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Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis methodologies under development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory were applied to determine whether existing benchmark experiments adequately cover the area of applicability for the criticality code and data validation of PuO2 and mixed-oxide (MOX) powder systems. The study examined three PuO2 powder systems and four MOX powder systems that would be useful for establishing mass limits for a MOX fuel fabrication facility. Using traditional methods to choose experiments for criticality analysis validation, 46 benchmark critical experiments were identified as applicable to the PuO2 powder systems. However, only 14 experiments were thought to be within the area of applicability for dry MOX powder systems.

The applicability of 318 benchmark critical experiments, including the 60 experiments initially identified, was assessed. Each benchmark and powder system was analyzed using the Tools for Sensitivity and UNcertainty Analysis Methodology Implementation (TSUNAMI) one-dimensional (TSUNAMI-1D) or TSUNAMI three-dimensional (TSUNAMI-3D) sensitivity analysis sequences, which will be included in the next release of the SCALE code system. This sensitivity data and cross-section uncertainty data were then processed with TSUNAMI-IP to determine the correlation of each application to each experiment in the benchmarking set. Correlation coefficients are used to assess the similarity between systems and determine the applicability of one system for the code and data validation of another.

The applicability of most of the experiments identified using traditional methods was confirmed by the TSUNAMI analysis. In addition, some PuO2 and MOX powder systems were determined to be within the area of applicability of several other benchmarks that would not have been considered using traditional methods. Therefore, the number of benchmark experiments useful for the validation of these systems exceeds the number previously expected. The TSUNAMI analysis also emphasized some areas where more benchmark data are needed, indicating the need for further evaluation of existing experiments, or possibly the completion of new experiments to fill these gaps. This lack of evaluated data is particularly important for very dry and dense MOX powder systems.

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