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Nuclear Reactor Theory


The "Nuclear Reactor Theory" course will be held in a modular way in the framework
of BNEN and the FP5-project ENEN. The course comprises three parts of reactor
theory and three laboratory sessions.

Time Schedule

Course: week 47 and 48; November 17 – November 28

Monday 17 Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 21 Saturday

18 19 20 22
Welcome TH-I-2 TH-I-4 TH-II-2 TH-II-4 TH-II-6
Administrative (WDH) (WDH) (JMND) (JMND) (JMND)
TH-I-1 TH-I-3 TH-II-1 TH-II-3 TH-II-5 Free time

Monday 24 Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 28

25 26 27
TH-III-1 TH-III-3 TH-III-5 Lab 1 Lab 3
(EM) (EM) (EM) (PB) (SC)
TH-III-2 TH-III-4 TH-III-6 Lab 2 Closing
(EM) (EM) (EM) (PB) session

Nuclear Reactor Theory Part I (W. D'haeseleer)

Session 1

Review of Nuclear Physics (LAM, chapter 1)

Interaction of Neutrons with Matter (LAM, chapter 2)
Different types of neutron cross sections, center of mass coordinates, transport
cross-section; the Doppler effect

This block effectively covers also part of DH chapter 2.

Session 2

Nuclear Fission (LAM, chapter 3)

Mechanisms of fission, fission fuels, cross sections of fissionable nuclei, the
products of fission, energy release from fission, fuel burn up and fuel
Nuclear Chain- Reacting Systems (LAM, chapter 4)
Multiplication factor, conversion and breeding
Diffusion of Neutrons (LAM, chapter 5, § 5-1 to 5-8)
Interaction rates and Neutron flux, Current Density, Continuity Equation,
Fick’s Law, Validity of Fick’s Law, Diffusion Equation, Boundary Conditions
for the Diffusion Equation.

This block effectively covers also the sections of DH § 3.I, 4.I, 4.IV E, 5.I.

Session 3

Diffusion of Neutrons, continued (LAM, chapter 5, § 5-9-5-12)

Elementrary solutions of the Diffusion Eq, General Diffusion problems,
Diffusion Length, Reciprocity Theorem;
Neutron Moderation without Absorption (LAM, chapter 6)
Energy loss in elastic collisions, Collision and Slowing Down Densities,
Moderation of Neutrons in Hydrogen, Lethargy, Moderation of Neutrons for
A>1, Nonmonoenergetic Sources, Fermi Age Theory, Solutions to the Age
Equation, Physical Significance of the Fermi Age, Validity of Age Theory.

This block effectively covers also the sections of DH 5.II A, 5.III, 5.IV A, 8.1
A,B1&2,C1, 8.III B1&2, 8.IV C

Session 4


Nuclear Reactor Theory Part II (J.-M. Noterdaeme)

Session 1

Neutron Moderation with Absorption and Fission (LAM, Chapter 7)

different types of moderators, treatment of resonances, computation and
measurement of resonance escape

Session 2

Low energy neutrons (LAM, Chapter 8)

Neutron spectra, interaction rates, reactor power, calculation of eta, diffusion
time, diffusion length, thermalisation time, measurement of some of those parameters.

Session 3

Fermi theory of the bare thermal reactor (LAM, Chapter 9)

Infinite, homogeneous reactor, finite thermal reactor of different geometries,
critical equation with practical applications, optimum reactor shapes

Session 4

Multiregion reactors, the group diffusion method (LAM, Chapter 10)

One group, two group
Session 5

Multiregion reactors, the group diffusion method (LAM, Chapter 10, continued)
multigroup, treatment of reflectors, measurement of critical reactor parameters
Control Rods (LAM, Chapter 14)
Control rod worth, one group theory, two group, central, excentric, ring of

Session 6


Nuclear Reactor Theory Part III (E. Mund)

Session 1: Transport Theory

Phase Space (DH-4.I)

The Neutron Transport Equation (DH-4.II)
Common Simplifications of the Neutron TE (DH-4.IV.B)
The One-velocity Reciprocity Theorem (BG-2.7)

Session 2: The Diffusion Approximation Revisited

The P_N Approximation in the one-speed model (DH-5.IV, BG-2.6)

The P_1 Approximation in the Energy Dependent Model
(DH-4.IV.D, DH-8.III, DH-8.IV)
Numerical Methods for Solving the Diffusion Equations (DH-5.II.B)
Reactor Criticality Calculations (DH-5.IV)

Session 3: Perturbation Theory

Introduction (JL-15, DH-5-V)

The One-Velocity Case (JL-15, DH-5.V)
The Multigroup Case (JL-15, DH-7.V)

Session 4: Nuclear Reactor Kinetics

Introduction (DH-6.I)
The Point Kinetics Equations (DH-6.I, BG-9.6)
The In- hour Equation (DH-6.II, BG-9.2)
The Inverse Method (DH-6.II)
Approximate Solutions of the PK Equations (DH-6.II)

Session 5: Heterogeneous Reactors

The Thermal Utilization Factor (JL-11.2, DH-10.I, DH-10.II)

A/ Diffusion Theory
B/ The Concept of Probability of Escape (BG-2.8)
C/ The Amouyal- Benoist-Horowitz (ABH) Method
The Resonance Escape Probability (JL-11.3, DH-10.III)

Session 6: Changes in Reactivity

Fission Gas Poisoning (DH-15.I)
A/ The Xenon Effect
B/ The Samarium Effect

Laboratory Session 1: Sigma Pile (P. Baeten)

The purpose of this laboratory session is the determination of the basic static reactor
parameters: the diffusion length, the diffusion coefficient and the Fermi-age of a
graphite moderator at the Sigma Pile. The obtained results will be discussed in view
of the applied methods. Meanwhile the students will be familiarized with the main
principles of slow neutron detection.

Laboratory Session 2: VENUS (P. Baeten)

The purpose of this laboratory session is the determination of the axial fission-rate
distribution of a pure UO 2 critical configuration at the VENUS critical facility. From
this axial fission-rate distribution, the axial buckling of the core together with the
mean reflector savings can be determined. During the experiment, the correct settings
of the electronic measurement will be verified. The measured parameters results will
be compared with analytical calculations and hence the obtained results will be

Laboratory Session 3: BR1 (S. Coenen)

Subcritical approach of the BR1 reactor: the criticality of the reactor is determined by
estimating the critical height of the control rods by successive measurements and
verification of the estimated height and the actual critical height.

Period measurement and control rod worth: both positive and negative reactor periods
are evaluated and the reactivity worth of the control rods is calculated.

Reactor kinetics: the position of the control rods is subject to a specific profile, and
the corresponding reactor power is recorded and compared with the theoretical


John R. Lamarsh, “Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory”, Addison-Wesley,

Reading, Massachusetts, 1972, referred to as LAM
James J. Duderstadt & Louis J. Hamilton, “Nuclear Reactor Physics”, Wiley, New
York, 1976, referred to as DH