2022 journal article

Nuclear data uncertainty propagation applied to the versatile test reactor conceptual design

Nuclear Engineering and Design, 392, 111744.

By: A. Rivas n, N. Martin*, S. Bays*, G. Palmiotti*, Z. Xu* & J. Hou n

author keywords: Uncertainty Propagation; Neutronics; Versatile Test Reactor; Nuclear Data Uncertainty; Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor; Sensitivity Analysis
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
Source: ORCID
Added: April 20, 2022

The Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) currently under development is a 300 MWth sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) fueled with ternary metal alloy fuel, which aims to accelerate the testing of advanced nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation, and sensors in high flux environments that are necessary to license the next generation of advanced reactor concepts. To support the VTR design process, uncertainties associated with the nuclear data has been propagated through the reactor core neutronics calculation to global parameters of interest, such as the core multiplication factor, kinetic parameters, and various reactivity feedback coefficients, following the sensitivity based uncertainty propagation approach. By folding the sensitivity coefficients, separately computed by the generalized perturbation theory code PERSENT and Monte Carlo code Serpent 2, with the variance–covariance matrices from COMMARA-2.0, we obtain the reaction-wise, isotope-wise, and overall uncertainties for each response of interest due to nuclear data uncertainty. With Serpent 2, the statistical error of the uncertainty is obtained by propagating the statistical error of the sensitivity coefficients through the same process using a newly developed uncertainty propagation method. From both codes, the overall top uncertainty contributors are found to be the cross section of Fe-56 elastic scattering, Na-23 elastic scattering, and U-238 inelastic scattering. The large contributions of the Fe-56 elastic scattering cross sections to global parameters are due to its relatively large relative uncertainty of 5–10% in nuclear data and the large volume of Fe-containing reflector assemblies in the fairly compact VTR core design. Both codes agreed well for the overall uncertainty estimates of all responses of interest, except the delayed neutron fraction, prompt neutron generation time, and the coolant density feedback coefficient, where Serpent 2 yielded a much larger value than PERSENT due to the large statistical error of sensitivity coefficients. The calculated uncertainties are also compared to those associated with other SFR cores. Another outcome of this study is a variance–covariance matrix of reactivity coefficients, which can be used in the subsequent uncertainty propagation to the system level to investigate the impact of identified uncertainties on system responses in the safety analysis.