Assessment of Reactivity Margins and Loading Curves for PWR Burnup-Credit Cask Designs (NUREG/CR-6800)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 2002
Date Published: March 2003

Prepared by:
J.C. Wagner, C.E. Sanders

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

R.Y. Lee, NRC Project Manager

NRC Job Code W6479

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

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This report presents studies to assess reactivity margins and loading curves for pressurized water reactor (PWR) burnup-credit criticality safety evaluations. The studies are based on a generic high-density 32-assembly cask and systematically vary individual calculational (depletion and criticality) assumptions to demonstrate the impact on the predicted effective neutron multiplication factor, keff, and burnup-credit loading curves. The purpose of this report is to provide a greater understanding of the importance of input parameter variations and quantify the impact of calculational assumptions on the outcome of a burnup-credit evaluation. This study should provide guidance to regulators and industry on the technical areas where improved information will most enhance the estimation of accurate subcritical margins. Based on these studies, areas where future work may provide the most benefit are identified. The report also includes an evaluation of the degree of burnup credit needed for high-density casks to transport the current spent nuclear fuel inventory. By comparing PWR discharge data to actinide-only based loading curves and determining the number of assemblies that meet the loading criteria, this evaluation finds that additional negative reactivity (through either increased credit for fuel burnup or cask design/utilization modifications) is necessary to accommodate the majority of current spent fuel assemblies in high-capacity casks. Assemblies that are not acceptable for loading in the prototypic high-capacity cask may be stored or transported by other means (e.g., lower capacity casks that utilize flux traps and/or increased fixed poison concentrations or high-capacity casks with design/utilization modifications).

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