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Research Reactors

IAEA CRP 1496 (2008-2013)
Innovative methods in Research Reactor Analysis: Benchmark against Experimental Data on Neutronics and Thermalhydraulic Computational Methods and Tools for Operation and Safety Analysis of Research Reactors.


In 2007 two Coordinated Research Projects (CRPs) were proposed; one on innovative methods on research reactor analysis and the second on benchmarking neutronics and thermalhydraulic computational methods and tools for safety analysis of research reactors. The second CRP addressed a recommendation made during the CRP on "Safety Significance of Postulated Initiating Events for Different Research Reactor Types and Assessment of Analytical Tools", held in Vienna, 3-7 April 2006.

After some internal discussions, it was decided by the IAEA to merge the two CRPs in order to avoid duplication, optimize the use of resources, and allow for better results and harmonization of approaches used in research reactor analysis. The selected title of the proposed merged CRP was "Innovative methods in research reactor analysis: Benchmark against experimental data on neutronics and thermalhydraulic computational methods and tools for operation and safety analysis of research reactors."

In order to consolidate the CRP, a consultancy meeting was organized in March 2008, with the objective to discuss the different elements necessary for its development and implementation, particularly the expected research output, action plan, related activities and logical framework.

The meeting was conducted with the participation of seven consultants from 6 countries in addition to two observers. During the discussions it became clear that one of the main requirements for the CRP was to include benchmarking against experimental measurements and not only to make code to code comparisons. For this reason a key issue for success of the proposed CRP was to obtain sets of experimental data in a format suitable for the purpose, and made them available to CRP participants. A short overview of a number of potential research reactors was made in order to assess availability of possible experimental data. For these reactors a list of experimental data that could be available was prepared, based on experts’ knowledge. The list contained different reactor types, with a few being identified as interesting for the CRP. The list also included the SPERT experiments, at present the only experiments on fast reactivity insertion transients with data available in public domain. The meeting participants emphasized that participants the use of the experimental data sets could only be possible after agreement of the respective operating organizations.

Having decided that the CRP should be focused on benchmarking against experimental data, a RCM meeting was planned with the purpose to

  1. collect, and make available for the participants, the experimental data sets selected for comparison with calculations;
  2. define the outline of the reports that will be produced, to allow easy comparison of results;
  3. define the action matrix, establishing the specific tasks of the individual participants, with respective dates ;
  4. define mechanisms to exchange information during the conduct of the CRP. On this RCM , held in the first week of December, it was decided to use experimental data sets from the following reactors: OPAL (Australia), ETRR-2 (Egypt), WWR-SM (Uzbekistan), MNSR (Syria), RSG-GAS (Indonesia), FRJ-2 (Germany), MNR (Canada) and the experiments SPERT III and IV (USA).

The Overall Objective of this CRP is to encourage cooperation and foster exchange of information in the area of numerical analysis for improving research reactor design, operation, and safety.

Specific Objective of the project is to benchmark against experimental data existing neutronics and thermalhydraulic computational methods and tools that are routinely utilized for operation and safety analysis of research reactors.

The Expected Research Output of the CRP will be an IAEA technical document (TECDOC) showing the comparison of experimental and theoretical results, and a description of the work developed by each individual group. It will also identify remaining open issues for future R&D activities, and indicate a possible role for the Agency in the subject. It is understood that such document will be helpful to improve operational performance and safety of research reactors.

The Action Plan is based on the activities proposed by the participants of the CRP.