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1 - Physics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2014

Anthony M. Judd
Affiliation:
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
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Summary

Physics and Design

Whether the purpose of a fast reactor is to generate power, to breed fissile material, to consume fissile material or to consume nuclear waste products, whether its chain reaction is to be critical and self-sustaining or subcritical and driven by an external source of neutrons, reactor physics – the understanding of the nuclear reactions that take place in it – is fundamental to its design in two ways. Firstly, criticality is a question of reactor physics. The designer of the reactor has to determine the size and composition needed to make the reactor critical or to achieve the required degree of subcriticality, to predict the effect on reactivity of movement of the control rods and the burnup of the fuel, and to estimate the reactivity changes that come about in the course of normal operation and under abnormal conditions. Secondly, he or she has to know the rate at which various nuclear reactions take place, for on these depend the power generated and its distribution within the reactor, the burnup of the fuel, the breeding or destruction of fissile material and nuclear waste, the alteration of the properties of the materials of which the reactor is constructed, the build-up of radioactivity, and the need for radiation shielding.

Reactor physics is not, however, the only important influence on design. Heat transfer, structural, metallurgical, and safety considerations are also important, and the design ultimately chosen is a compromise. In reaching this compromise a designer's overriding aim is that the reactor should be as effective as possible in achieving its objectives, provided that it is safe.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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References

Baker, A. R. and Ross, R. W. (1963) Comparison of the Values of Plutonium and Uranium Isotopes in Fast Reactors, pp 329–265 in Breeding, Economics and Safety in Large Fast Power Reactors Report ANL 6792, USAEC, Washington
Broomfield, A. M., George, C. F., Ingram, G., Jakeman, D. and Sanders, J. E. (1969) Measurements of k-infinity, Reaction Rates and Spectra in ZEBRA Plutonium Lattices, pp 1502–1511 in Fast Reactor Safety Technology, Volume 3, American Nuclear Society, LaGrange Park, Illinois, USA
Brown, F. B. (2012) Fundamentals of Monte Carlo Particle Transport Report LA-UR-05–4983, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA
Coates, D. J. and Parks, G. T. (2010) Actinide Evolution and Equilibrium in Fast Thorium Reactors, Annals of Nuclear Energy, 37, 1076–1088
Davison, B. and Sykes, J. B. (1957) Neutron Transport Theory, Clarendon, Oxford
Duderstadt, J. J. and Hamilton, L. J. (1976) Nuclear Reactor Analysis, Wiley, New York
Greenspan, H., Kelber, C. N. and Okrent, D. (1968) Computing Methods in Reactor Physics, Gordon and Breach, New York
Hummel, H. H. and Okrent, D. (1970) Reactivity Coefficients in Large Fast Power Reactors, American Nuclear Society, Hinsdale, Illinois, USA
Okrent, D. (1961) Performance of Large Fast Power Reactors Including Effects of Higher Isotopes, Recycling and Fission Products, pp 271–297 in Physics of Fast and Intermediate Reactors, Volume 2, IAEA, Vienna
Okrent, D., Cohen, K. P. and Lowenetein, W. B. (1964) Some Nuclear and Safety Considerations in the Design of Large Fast Power Reactors, pp 147–148 in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Volume 6, United Nations, New York
Palmiotti, G., Lewis, E. E. and Carrico, C. B. (1995) VARIANT: Variational Anisotropic Nodal Transport for Multidimensional Cartesian and Hexagonal Geometry Calculation Report ANL-95/40, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois, USA
Tamplin, L. J. (Ed) (1963) Reactor Physics Constants Report ANL 5800 (2nd ed.), USAEC, Washington, DC
Van der Meer, K. et al. (2004) Spallation Yields of Neutrons Produced in Thick Lead/Bismuth Targets by Protons at Incident Energies of 420 and 590 MeV, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B, 217, 202–220
Wardleworth, D. and Wheeler, R. C. (1974) Reactor Physics Calculational Methods in Support of the Prototype Fast Reactor, Journal of the British Nuclear Energy Society, 13, 383–390
Yiftah, S. (1961) Effect of the Plutonium Isotopic Composition on the Performance of Fast Reactors, pp 257–270 in Physics of Fast and Intermediate Reactors, Volume 2, IAEA, Vienna

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  • Physics
  • Anthony M. Judd, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
  • Book: An Introduction to the Engineering of Fast Nuclear Reactors
  • Online publication: 05 February 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540858.003
Available formats
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  • Physics
  • Anthony M. Judd, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
  • Book: An Introduction to the Engineering of Fast Nuclear Reactors
  • Online publication: 05 February 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540858.003
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Physics
  • Anthony M. Judd, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
  • Book: An Introduction to the Engineering of Fast Nuclear Reactors
  • Online publication: 05 February 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540858.003
Available formats
×