The Correction of Pebble Bed Reactor Nodal Cross Sections for the Effects of Leakage and Depletion History

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Hudson, Nathanael Harrison
Rahnema, Farzad
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An accurate and computationally fast method to generate nodal cross sections for the Pebble Bed Reactor (PBR) was presented. In this method, named Spectral History Correction (SHC), a set of fine group microscopic cross section libraries, pre-computed at specified depletion and moderation states, was coupled with the nodal nuclide densities and group bucklings to compute the new fine group spectrum for each node. The relevant fine group cross-section library was then recollapsed to the local broad group cross-section structure with this new fine group spectrum. This library set was tracked in terms of fuel isotopic densities. Fine group modulation factors (to correct the homogeneous flux for heterogeneous effects) and fission spectra were also stored with the cross section library. As the PBR simulation converges to a steady state fuel cycle, the initial nodal cross section library becomes inaccurate due to the burnup of the fuel and the neutron leakage into and out of the node. Because of the recirculation of discharged fuel pebbles with fresh fuel pebbles, a node can consist of a collection of pebbles at various burnup stages. To account for the nodal burnup, the microscopic cross sections were combined with nodal averaged atom densities to approximate the fine group macroscopic cross-sections for that node. These constructed, homogeneous macroscopic cross sections within the node were used to calculate a numerical solution for the fine group spectrum with B1 theory. This new fine spectrum was used to collapse the pre-computed microscopic cross section library to the broad group structure employed by the fuel cycle code. This SHC technique was developed and practically implemented as a subroutine within the PBR fuel cycle code PEBBED. The SHC subroutine was called to recalculate the broad group cross sections during the code convergence. The result was a fast method that compared favorably to the benchmark scheme of cross section calculation with the lattice cross-section generator for two PBR reactor designs.
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