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Al-Balqa Applied University

Nuclear Reactors 501503747

Mid-Term Exam
Dr. Saed Dababneh December 5th, 2007

Question 1

Consider a bare cubic reactor and one-group neutron diffusion. The reactor is composed of fuel channels with
D2O coolant surrounded by D2O moderator (CANDU). Treat the reactor as a homogeneous mixture with D =
6.0 cm, Σa = 6.0×10-4 cm-1 and critical side length of 100 cm.
a) Calculate the fuel characteristic νΣf. [5]
b) Explore an alternate design. Keep the same fuel and replace the heavy water coolant with light water. This
configuration makes D = 0.3 cm and Σa = 0.03 cm-1. What would be the new dimensions of the cubic
reactor? Does it go critical? Can we still use natural uranium? [5]

Question 2 [2 marks each]

a) Determine the burnup and consumption rates for 235U to produce 1 MW (thermal).
b) A reactor operating at a flux level of 3×1013 neutrons/cm2⋅s contains 1020 atoms of 235U per cm3. The
reaction rate is 1.29×1012 fissions/cm3⋅s. Calculate the macroscopic and microscopic fission cross sections.
c) An alloy is composed of 95% aluminum and 5% silicon (by weight). The density of the alloy is 2.66 g/cm3.
Relevant properties of aluminum and silicon are shown in the table below.
Element Atomic Mass σa (b) σs (b)
Aluminum 26.9815 0.23 1.49
Silicon 28.0855 0.16 2.20
How long must a neutron travel (on average) in this alloy before it interacts by (i) absorption (ii) scattering.
d) Calculate the thermal utilization factor for a homogeneous reactor. The macroscopic absorption cross
section of the fuel is 0.3020 cm-1, of the moderator is 0.0104 cm-1, and of the poison is 0.0118 cm-1.
−Σ X
e) Discuss the validity of the equation I ( X ) = I 0 e
for neutron beam attenuation .
f) If a critical finite thermal cubic reactor has a volume of 1 cubic meter and a migration length of 5.05 cm,
calculate the infinite neutron multiplication factor.

Question 3 [3 marks each]

The total number of neutrons at the beginning of a generation is given by n = nf + nt. The values for each factor
of the six factor formula are
ε = 1.031 p = 0.803 η = 2.012 f = 0.751 P fnon-leak = 0.889 P tnon-leak = 0.905.
a) Starting with nf, calculate the number of neutrons that exist at the following points in the neutron life cycle:
i. Number of neutrons that exist after fast fission.
ii. Number of neutrons that start to slow down in the reactor.
iii. Number of neutrons that reach thermal energies.
iv. Number of thermal neutrons that are absorbed in the reactor.
v. Number of thermal neutrons absorbed in the fuel.
vi. Number of neutrons produced from thermal fission.
b) Perform the same calculations for nt neutrons at the beginning of a generation.
c) What is the total number of neutrons after one generation? Describe the criticality of the reactor.
d) Calculate the reactivity.
e) What is the total number of neutrons after 50 generations?
f) If the diffusion time is ~ 10-3 s, estimate the total number of neutrons after one second.
Question 4 [10]

Recall that a free neutron beta decays with a half-life of 11.7 minutes; determine the relative probability that a
thermal neutron will undergo beta decay before being absorbed in an infinite medium. Calculate this probability
using water (Σa = 0.022 cm-1) as the medium. Write a simple neutron balance equation for one-speed (thermal)
neutrons with an additional ‘sink’ of neutron decay and ignore the diffusion term. Solve this equation.

Question 5 [10]

Consider a processing facility for the production of isotope B, consisting of a small container inside a reactor.
The container is small and the absorption cross section is low enough that the neutron flux is uniform in the
container. The isotope B is produced by the reaction A(n,γ)B. B decays to C with a half-life T1/2. A and C do not
decay. A, B and C all have finite neutron absorption cross sections and all can be added and removed from the
container. State the governing balance equations for A, B and C. Why is this kind of analysis important in the
reactor theory?