United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Review of Technical Issues Related to Predicting Isotopic Compositions and Source Terms for High-Burnup LWR Fuel (NUREG/CR-6701)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: December 2000
Date Published: January 2001

Prepared by:
I.C. Gauld, C.V. Parks

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6370

D.D. Ebert, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Division of Systems Analysis and Regulatory Effectiveness
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code W6479

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This report has been prepared to review the technical issues important to the prediction of isotopic compositions and source terms for high-burnup, light-water-reactor (LWR) fuel as utilized in the licensing of spent fuel transport and storage systems. The current trend towards higher initial 235U enrichments, more complex assembly designs, and more efficient fuel management schemes has resulted in higher spent fuel burnups than seen in the past This trend has led to a situation where high-burnup assemblies from operating LWRs now extend beyond the area where available experimental data can be used to validate the computational methods employed to calculate spent fuel inventories and source terms. This report provides a brief review of currently available validation data, including isotopic assays, decay heat measurements, and shielded dose-rate measurements. Potential new sources of experimental data available in the near term are identified. A review of the background issues important to isotopic predictions and some of the perceived technical challenges that high-burnup fuel presents to the current computational methods are discussed. Based on the review, the phenomena that need to be investigated further and the technical issues that require resolution are presented. The methods and data development that may be required to address the possible shortcomings of physics and depletion methods in the high-burnup and high-enrichment regime are also discussed. Finally, a sensitivity analysis methodology is presented. This methodology is currently being investigated at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a computational tool to better understand the changing relative significance of the underlying nuclear data in the different enrichment and burnup regimes and to identify the processes that are dominant in the high-burnup regime. The potential application of the sensitivity analysis methodology to help establish a range of applicability for experimental data in code validation is also discussed and demonstrated.

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