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Development of a Fissile Materials Irradiation Capability for Advanced Fuel Testing at the MIT Research Reactor

Lin-Wen Hu, John A. Bernard, Pavel Hejzlar, Gordon Kohse

Nuclear Technology

Volume 150 / Number 2 / May 2005 / Pages 203-208


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A fissile materials irradiation capability has been developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Research Reactor (MITR) to support nuclear engineering studies in the area of advanced fuels. The focus of the expected research is to investigate the basic properties of advanced nuclear fuels using small aggregates of fissile material. As such, this program is intended to complement the ongoing fuel evaluation programs at test reactors. Candidates for study at the MITR include vibration-packed annular fuel for light water reactors and microparticle fuels for high-temperature gas reactors. Technical considerations that pertain to the design of the MITR facility are enumerated including those specified by 10 CFR 50 concerning the definition of a research reactor and those contained in a separate license amendment that was issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to MIT for these types of experiments. The former includes limits on the cross-sectional area of the experiment, the physical form of the irradiated material, and the removal of heat. The latter addresses experiment reactivity worth, thermal-hydraulic considerations, avoidance of fission product release, and experiment specific temperature scrams.

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