United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Evaluation of the French Haut Taux de Combustion (HTC) Critical Experiment Data (NUREG/CR-6979)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: June 2007
Date Published:
September 2008

Prepared by:
D.E. Mueller, K.R. Elam, and P.B. Fox

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6170

M. Aissa, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code Y6517

Availability Notice

Abstract

In the 1980s, a series of critical experiments referred to as the Haut Taux de Combustion (HTC) experiments was conducted by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) at the experimental criticality facility in Valduc, France. The plutonium-to- uranium ratio and the isotopic compositions of both the uranium and plutonium used in the simulated fuel rods were designed to be similar to what would be found in a typical pressurized-water reactor fuel assembly that initially had an enrichment of 4.5 wt % 235U and was burned to 37,500 MWd/MTU. The fuel material also includes 241Am, which is present due to the decay of 241Pu. The HTC experiments include configurations designed to simulate fuel handling activities, pool storage, and transport in casks constructed of thick lead or steel.

Rights of use for the HTC experiment data were purchased under an agreement that limits release of the information. Consequently, a detailed and complete description of the experiments is not presented in this report. This report discusses evaluation of the four HTC data reports, modeling of the experiments, sensitivity and uncertainty analysis, and upper subcritical limit (USL) calculation. The report also presents some conclusions and recommendations concerning use of the HTC experiment data for burnup credit applications.

The similarity of the HTC experiments with PWR spent nuclear fuel has been quantified using sensitivity/uncertainty analysis, confirming that the HTC experiments are significantly more applicable to the validation of burnup credit calculations than other available mixed-oxide (MOX) experiments. The HTC experiments were designed and executed with a high level of rigor, resulting in experimental uncertainties that are lower than many of the earlier MOX experiments. The HTC data reports, together with information provided in this report, provide sufficient data to allow for either detailed or simplified computational models to be developed. The HTC experiments substantially strengthen the technical basis for validation by adding to the previously small number of applicable experiments against which to compare burnup credit applications. Existing MOX experiments found to be applicable are also identified in this report.

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