Secondary neutron source modelling using MCNPX and ALEPH codes
1 AREVA NP - Paris
* Corresponding Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monitoring the subcritical state and divergence of reactors requires the presence of neutron sources. But mainly secondary neutrons from these sources feed the ex-core detectors (SRD, Source Range Detector) whose counting rate is correlated with the level of the subcriticality of reactor.
In cycle 1, primary neutrons are provided by sources activated outside of the reactor (e.g. Cf252); part of this source can be used for the divergence of cycle 2 (not systematic). A second family of neutron sources is used for the second cycle: the spontaneous neutrons of actinides produced after irradiation of fuel in the first cycle. Both families of sources are not sufficient to efficiently monitor the divergence of the second cycles and following ones, in most reactors. Secondary sources cluster (SSC) fulfil this role. In the present case, the SSC [Sb, Be], after activation in the first cycle (production of Sb124, unstable), produces in subsequent cycles a photo-neutron source by gamma (from Sb124)-neutron (on Be9) reaction.
This paper presents the model of the process between irradiation in cycle 1 and cycle 2 results for SRD counting rate at the beginning of cycle 2, using the MCNPX code and the depletion chain ALEPH-V1 (coupling of MCNPX and ORIGEN codes). The results of this simulation are compared with two experimental results of the PWR 1450 MWe-N4 reactors. A good agreement is observed between these results and the simulations. The subcriticality of the reactors is about at -15,000 pcm. Discrepancies on the SRD counting rate between calculations and measurements are in the order of 10%, lower than the combined uncertainty of measurements and code simulation.
This comparison validates the AREVA methodology, which allows having an SRD counting rate best-estimate for cycles 2 and next ones and optimizing the position of the SSC, depending on the geographic location of sources, main parameter for optimal monitoring of subcritical states.
Key words: subcritical / divergence / photo-neutron / SSC / MCNPX / ALEPH-V1 / SRD
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014