Improving Prompt Temperature Feedback by Stimulating Doppler Broadening in Heterogeneous Composite Nuclear Fuel Forms

by Christopher Morrison

Institution: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Year: 2017
Keywords: Nuclear engineering; Nuclear physics and radiation
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2157514
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=10608366


Nuclear fuels with similar aggregate material composition, but with different millimeter and micrometer spatial configurations of the component materials can have very different safety and performance characteristics. This research focuses on modeling and attempting to engineer heterogeneous combinations of nuclear fuels to improve negative prompt temperature feedback in response to reactivity insertion accidents. Improvements in negative prompt temperature feedback are proposed by developing a tailored thermal resistance in the nuclear fuel. In the event of a large reactivity insertion, the thermal resistance allows for a faster negative Doppler feedback by temporarily trapping heat in material zones with strong absorption resonances. A multi-physics simulation framework was created that could model large reactivity insertions. The framework was then used to model a comparison of a heterogeneous fuel with a tailored thermal resistance and a homogeneous fuel without the tailored thermal resistance. The results from the analysis confirmed the fundamental premise of prompt temperature feedback and provide insights into the neutron spectrum dynamics throughout the transient process. A trade study was conducted on infinite lattice fuels to help map a design space to study and improve prompt temperature feedback with many results. A multi-scale fuel pin analysis was also completed to study more realistic geometries. The results of this research could someday allow for novel nuclear fuels that would behave differently than current fuels. The idea of having a thermal barrier coating in the fuel is contrary to most current thinking. Inherent resistance to reactivity insertion accidents could enable certain reactor types once considered vulnerable to reactivity insertion accidents to be reevaluated in light of improved negative prompt temperature feedback.