United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Parametric Study of the Effect of Burnable Poison Rods for PWR Burnup Credit (NUREG/CR-6761, ORNL/TM-2000/373)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: September 2001
Date Published:
March 2002

Prepared by:
J.C. Wagner and C.V. Parks

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
P.O. Box 2008, Building 6011, MS-6370
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-6370
Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC

R.Y. Lee, NRC Project Manager

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

NRC Job Code W6479

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The Interim Staff Guidance on Burnup Credit (ISG-8) issued by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (U.S. NRC) Spent Fuel Project Office recommends restricting the use of burnup credit to assemblies that have not used burnable absorbers. This recommended restriction eliminates a large portion of the currently discharged spent fuel assemblies from cask loading, and thus severely limits the practical usefulness of burnup credit. In the absence of readily available information on burnable poison rod (BPR) design specifications and usage in U.S. pressurized-water-reactors (PWRs), and the subsequent reactivity effect of BPR exposure on discharged spent nuclear fuel (SNF), NRC staff has indicated a need for additional information in these areas. In response, this report presents a parametric study of the effect of BPR exposure on the reactivity of SNF for various BPR designs, fuel enrichments, and exposure conditions, and documents BPR design specifications. Trends in the reactivity effects of BPRs are established with infinite pin-cell and assembly array calculations with the SCALE and HELIOS code packages, respectively. Subsequently, the reactivity effects of BPRs for typical initial enrichment and burnup combinations are quantified based on three-dimensional (3-D) KENO V.a Monte Carlo calculations with a realistic rail-type cask designed for burnup credit. The calculations demonstrate that the positive reactivity effect due to BPR exposure increases nearly linearly with burnup and is dependent on the number, poison loading, and design of the BPRs and the initial fuel enrichment. Expected typical reactivity increases, based on one-cycle BPR exposure, were found to be less than 1% Δk. Based on the presented analysis, guidance is offered on an appropriate approach for calculating bounding SNF isotopic data for assemblies exposed to BPRs. Although the analyses do not address the issue of validation of depletion methods for assembly designs with BPRs, they do demonstrate that the effect of BPRs is generally well behaved and that independent codes and cross-section libraries predict similar results. The report concludes with a discussion of the issues for consideration and recommendations for inclusion of SNF assemblies exposed to BPRs in criticality safety analyses using burnup credit for dry cask storage and transport.

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