LDRD Seminar Series: ‘Simulation and Design of a Test Nuclear Reactor’
Principal Nuclear Engineer Bo Feng (NE) will discuss his Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD) sponsored work at the LDRD Seminar Series presentation Tuesday, March 27, 2018. “Simulation and Design of a Test Nuclear Reactor” begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Building 203 Auditorium. All are welcome to attend.
The existing nuclear power plants that produce 20 percent of our nation’s electricity use water to remove the heat generated from the nuclear fission process (which emits no greenhouse gases). Steam is generated during this process that ultimately drives a turbine to produce electricity. This water also slows down (thermalizes) the neutrons that are born at high kinetic energies (fast neutrons) from the fission chain reaction, which results in the reactor core having a neutron energy distribution that is peaked toward the lower energies. This distribution is called a “thermal spectrum.”
Many of the advanced reactor designs that are proposed for the future avoid using water or other thermalizing materials to obtain “mixed” or “fast” spectra, which may result in significant performance benefits. For example, reactors that operate with a fast spectrum have the ability to continuously recycle their own fuel, which would reduce the amount of nuclear waste by ~95 percent.
Before some of these advanced reactors can be licensed and built, their innovative fuels, coolants and materials may require testing under the intended neutron irradiation conditions and characteristic spectra. In theory, it is possible to reproduce these different environments in a single test nuclear reactor if the neutron spectrum in the core can be adjusted locally and/or over time. Such is the idea behind a “flexible spectrum test reactor.”
Bo Feng will introduce to a general audience how nuclear engineers model and analyze the physics of nuclear reactors and discuss how this process was improved and implemented in his LDRD project to design a flexible spectrum test reactor. Specifically, improvements were made to Argonne’s advanced reactor deterministic code system to enable more accurate modeling of fuel evolution within a thermal spectrum, different core layouts were designed to target the thermal, mixed and fast spectra, and lastly, an innovative fuel design is proposed to enable a higher fast neutron flux.
Since 2011, Bo Feng has been a nuclear engineer in the Reactor and Fuel Cycle Analysis Section within the Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne. During that time, his research has encompassed advanced reactor core design, reactor physics analysis, fuel cycle systems modeling and radiation transport. Feng earned his S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. in nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.