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Uncertainty analysis of the tru-burning thorium-fueled rbwr using generalized perturbation theory


The RBWR-TR is a thorium-based reduced moderation BWR (RBWR) with a high transuranic (TRU) consumption rate. It is charged with LWR TRU and thorium, and it recycles all actinides an unlimited number of times while discharging only fission products and trace amounts of actinides through reprocessing losses. This design is a variant of the Hitachi RBWR-TB2, which arranges its fuel in a hexagonal lattice, axially segregates seed and blanket regions, and fits within an existing ABWR pressure vessel. The RBWR-TR eliminates the internal axial blanket, eliminates absorbers from the upper reflector, and uses thorium rather than depleted uranium as the fertile makeup fuel. This design has been previously shown to perform comparably to the RBWR-TB2 in terms of TRU consumption rate and burnup, while providing significantly larger margin against critical heat flux. This study examines the uncertainty in key neutronics parameters due to nuclear data uncertainty. As most of the fissions are induced by epithermal neutrons and since the reactor uses higher actinides as well as thorium and 233U, the cross sections have significantly more uncertainty than in typical LWRs. The sensitivity of the multiplication factor (keff) to the cross sections of many actinides is quantified using a modified version of Serpent 2.1.19 [1]. Serpent [2] is a Monte Carlo code which uses delta tracking to speed up the simulation of reactors; in this modified version, cross sections are artificially inflated to sample more collision, and collisions are rejected to preserve a "fair game." The impact of these rejected collisions is then propagated to the multiplication factor using generalized perturbation theory [3]. Covariance matrices are retrieved for the ENDF/B-VII.1 library [4], and used to collapse the sensitivity vectors to an uncertainty on the multiplication factor. The simulation is repeated for several reactor configurations (for example, with a reduced flow rate, and with control rods inserted), and the difference in keff sensitivity is used to assess the uncertainty associated with the change (the uncertainty in the void feedback and the control rod worth). The uncertainty in the RBWR-TR is found to be dominated by the epithermal fission cross section for 233U in reference conditions, although when the spectrum hardens, the uncertainty in fast capture cross sections of 232Th becomes dominant.

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