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A New Paradigm for Local-Global Coupling in Whole-Core Neutron Transport

E. E. Lewis, M. A. Smith, G. Palmiotti

Nuclear Science and Engineering

Volume 161 / Number 3 / March 2009 / Pages 279-288


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A new paradigm that increases the efficiency of whole-core neutron transport calculations without lattice homogenization is introduced. Quasi-reflected interface conditions are formulated to partially decouple periodic lattice effects from global flux gradients. The starting point is the finite subelement form of the variational nodal code VARIANT that eliminates fuel-coolant homogenization through the use of heterogeneous nodes. The interface spherical harmonics expansions that couple pin-cell-sized nodes are divided into low-order and high-order terms, and reflected interface conditions are applied to the high-order terms. Combined with an integral transport method within the node, the new approach dramatically reduces both the formation time and the dimensions of the nodal response matrices and leads to sharply reduced memory requirements and computational time. The method is applied to the two-dimensional C5G7 problem, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency pressurized water reactor benchmark containing mixed oxide (MOX) and UO2 fuel assemblies, as well as to a three-dimensional MOX fuel assembly. Results indicate the new approach results in very little loss of accuracy relative to the corresponding full spherical harmonics expansions while reducing computational times by well over an order of magnitude.

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