SCALE 6.2 Lattice Physics Performance Assessment (NUREG/CR-7284, ORNL/TM-2017/278)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 2022
Date Published:  March 2023

Prepared by:
Ugur Mertyurek
Matthew A. Jessee
Benjamin R. Betzler
Stephen M. Bowman

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-617

Lucas Kyriazidis, NRC Project Manager

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

Availability Notice


The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission relies on the lattice physics analysis capabilities of the SCALE code system to perform confirmatory licensing analyses. Either SCALE lattice physics code—TRITON/NEWT or Polaris—can be used to generate cross section data used by the PARCS nodal core simulator for full-core neutronics calculations. This report presents an assessment of the accuracy of SCALE lattice physics codes for preparation of lattice physics data that are used to support simulator codes such as the NRC's PARCS, for UO2-mixed oxide (MOX)/Zr fueled light water reactor (LWR) analyses.

Due to the nature of lattice physics calculations, critical reactor experiment benchmarks cannot be modeled in explicit detail in a lattice physics code. However, this limitation does not mean that these measurement data are not usable for lattice physics studies. Therefore, either geometry approximations or axial buckling must be implemented to determine the critical water height. These modeling limitations have led to development of a three-phase assessment strategy.

In the first phase, selected critical experiment benchmarks are modeled using the SCALE 3D continuous-energy (CE) Monte Carlo (MC) code KENO, which is the most rigorous neutron transport method available in SCALE, with no approximations in the spatial, angle, or energy treatments. Biases and statistical uncertainties in quantities of interest such as keff and pin power distributions are determined by comparing CE KENO results to experimental data. This first phase in the accuracy assessment is to demonstrate and establish the use of CE KENO as a reference solution for the second phase.

In the second phase, 14 numerical test suites are used to compare SCALE lattice physics calculations with CE KENO as a reference solution.

In the third phase, SCALE lattice physics depletion calculations are performed, and the spent fuel isotopic results are compared with available radiochemical assay measurements. Isotopic measurement comparisons provide quantitative assessment of isotopic density distribution predictions with the depletion models in SCALE lattice physics codes.

This report documents results for all test suites. The assessment was performed using standard production techniques unless otherwise noted. Both TRITON/NEWT and Polaris exhibited acceptable accuracy for most test cases. For the few test cases in which acceptable accuracy criteria were not met, further code and data development are planned.

The computer codes used in this assessment are as follows:

  • SCALE 6.2 rev19189 (pre-release of 6.2.1) was used for CE KENO, TRITON/NEWT and Polaris (PWR only) calculations.

  • SCALE 6.2.2 was used for Polaris calculations to address several updates in support of support boiling water reactor (BWR) lattice geometries. For this work, there is no difference between SCALE 6.2.1 and SCALE 6.2.2 beyond the inclusion of the Polaris BWR analysis capability.

  • The ENDF/B-VII.1 continuous energy and 252 group libraries deployed in SCALE 6.2 were generated with AMPX 6.2 that is distributed with SCALE.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, March 24, 2023