The physics of nuclear reactor cores, in particular of heavy-water moderated pressure-tube reactors (CANDU).
The CANDU reactors are unique in their use of heavy water as a moderator, and, for the classic CANDU reactors, as a coolant as well. As a result of the excellent neutron economy, the CANDU reactor can use natural uranium as a fuel. This feature and the fact that CANDU reactors are refuelled on-power makes them ideally suited to be fuelled with alternate fuels, such as fuels containing thorium. The research in this area is funded by an NSERC grant. Under this grant, existing experiments with test reactors utilizing thorium-based fuel are analysed and a formal methodology is applied to the result to confirm that the test measurements are relevant for large power reactors. The methodology is commonly referred to as a sensitivity and uncertainty study, and assesses the degree to which two different systems are sensitive to uncertainties in nuclear cross section data.
Development of analysis tools for research in reactor physics.
The NSERC grant also covers the development of some of the tools used in the sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. In recent years, a transition has taken place from the use of deterministic codes for analysing the core behaviour to stochastic calculations on the basis of Monte Carlo algorithms. These Monte Carlo codes are believed to be more accurate, but require computer resources that have become available only recently. Such codes are MCNP and KENO.
We will investigate whether also the GEANT4 code, used in particle physics, can be used for this purpose. Under the grant, we will also investigate the possibility to perform calculations of the adjoint neutron flux in such Monte Carlo codes. This may greatly improve the capability to perform the perturbation calculations that are needed in the study of the alternative fuel cycles.
Associate Chair Undergraduate in the Engineering Physics Department President of the Canadian Nuclear Society