United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Sensitivity Analysis Applied to the Validation of the 10 B Capture Reaction in Nuclear Fuel Casks (NUREG/CR-6845, ORNL/TM-2004/48)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: January 2004
Date Published: August 2004

Prepared by:
S. Goluoglu, K.R. Elam, B.T. Rearden,
B.L. Broadhead, and C.M. Hopper
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-6170
Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC

Carl J. Withee, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Spent Fuel Project Office
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code B0009

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Abstract

Boron has commonly been used in nuclear fuel casks to ensure a sufficient margin of subcriticality. The amount of boron used in most casks far exceeds the amount of boron present in any of the available benchmark experiments. Such heavy loadings of boron in the casks may result in considerable spectral differences as compared to the benchmarks, resulting in boron sensitivities that are very different from those of the benchmarks. Before the calculations to determine the nuclear safety margin for various fuel loadings are deemed acceptable, as part of the safety basis, the computer code and cross sections must be validated against experimental benchmarks that cover the area of applicability of the proposed cask design. Therefore, this study was performed to determine if these available benchmarks can be used to validate a criticality code and neutron cross sections for the fuel casks. The sensitivity/uncertainty methodology has been applied to several application cask systems with different boron areal densities. Although, the sensitivities of the nuclear fuel cask applications are not completely covered by the set of benchmarks that were used in this study with regard to the 10B capture cross section, the effect of this lack of coverage on the keff is minimal. Thus, the experimental biases are determined to be appropriate for the cask systems, and no additional bias (penalty) due to high boron loading need be imposed.

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