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R.W. Candalino, "Engineering analysis of low enriched uranium fuel using improved zirconium hydride cross sections," M.S. Thesis, Texas A&M University, August 2006.



A neutronic and thermal hydraulic analysis of the 1-MW TRIGA research reactor at the Texas A&M University Nuclear Science Center using a new low enriched uranium fuel (named 30/20 fuel) was completed. This analysis provides safety assessment for the change out of the existing high enriched uranium fuel to this high-burnup, low enriched uranium fuel design. The codes MCNP and Monteburns were utilized for the neutronic analysis while the code PARET was used to determine fuel and cladding temperatures. All of these simulations used improved zirconium hydride cross sections that were provided by Dr. Ayman Hawari at North Carolina State University. The neutronic and thermal analysis showed that the reactor will operate with approximately the same fuel lifetime as the current high enriched uranium fuel and stay within the thermal and safety limits for the facility. It was also determined that the control rod worths and the temperature coefficient of reactivity would provide sufficient negative reactivity to control the reactor during the fuel's complete lifetime.

An assessment of the fuel's viability for use with the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative's Reactor Accelerator Coupling Experiments program was also performed. The objective of this study was to confirm the continued viability of these experiments with the reactor operating using this new fuel. For these experiments, the accelerator driven system must produce fission heating in excess of 1 kW when driven by a 20 kW accelerator system. This criterion was met using the new fuel. Therefore the change out of the fuel will not affect the viability of these experiments.

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