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THE RESONANCE ESCAPE PROBABILITY

M. Ragheb 7/19/2004

INTRODUCTION
We use the Breit-Wigner single level resonance formula for the absorption cross section as a function of energy, and the expressions for the slowing down density to derive an equation for the probability for a neutron to escape being absorbed in the resonance region as it slows down to thermal energies. The resulting expression for the resonance escape probability forms one term in the four factor formula for the infinite medium multiplication factor. Expressions for the resonance integral for homogeneous reactors are also derived.

THE BREIT-WIGNER SINGLE LEVEL RESONANCE FORMULA


For a single level resonance, the Breit-Wigner formula can be written as:

a (E) = 0

E0 E

1 ( E E0 ) 1+ /2
2

(1)

where: 0 and E 0 are the cross section and energy at the peak of the resonance, and is the width of the resonance at half maximum, as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1 Single-level resonance.

For a broad resonance, > (E - E 0 ),


E c = 0 0 E
1/ 2

const , v

which is the known 1/v dependence, e.g. Boron.

RESONANCE ESCAPE PROBABILITY


The probability of escaping absorption in the resonances while slowing down is called the resonance escape probability and is by definition:

P( E ) =

q( E ) q0

(2)

where q 0 is the slowing-down density at the fission energy. In an infinite medium the change in slowing down density in an energy interval dE is equal to the number of absorptions in dE, or:

dq .dE = a dE dE

(3)

We have proven before that the number of collisions per unit volume per unit time in the absence of absorptions was:

q dE = s dE E

If we now include the absorptions, we can write:

q dE = ( s + a )dE E

(4)

Dividing Eqns. 3 and 4, we get:

dq a = dE ( s + a ) q / E

or:
a dq dE . = d [ln q ( E )] = ( s + a ) E q

If we integrate from the fission energy E 0 to an arbitrary energy E, we get:

a q( E ) dE ln = q( E0 ) E0 ( s + a ) E
E

From Eqn. 2, and noting that q(E 0 )=q 0 , thus:


( + ) E q( E ) =e E s a p( E ) = q0
E0

dE

(5)

At thermal energy: p = exp( a dE ) ( s + a ) E Eth


E0

(6)

THE RESONANCE INTEGRAL FOR HOMOGENEOUS REACTORS


To estimate p from Eqn. 6, one needs to know the energy dependence of the cross sections and integrate over the whole energy range. For homogeneous reactors with weak fast absorptions we can approximate the integral in Eq. 6. Since s is fairly constant we can write it as:

1 s

a dE a E Eth 1 + s
E0

If we have a very predominant absorber (e.g U 235 ), we can substitute N a for a and rewrite the integral as:
a dE N a a E Eth 1 + s
E0

Na s

(7)

In case of infinite dilution of the absorbing material: s >> a ,

and we can write:

p = exp(

Na I0 ) s

(8)

wher:e I 0 =

E0

Eth

dE is the infinite dilution resonance integral. E

If s is comparable to a , we have the effective resonance integral:

I eff =

a dE N a a E Eth 1 + s
E0

(9)

If we remove the (1 +

N a a ) term from the denominator: s

I eff

dE E I0 E = th = N 1 + a a 1 + N a a s s

E0

where: a and s are average values over the energy range. In this case:

E0

a =

Eth E0

( E )dE
a Eth

( E )dE

If (E) = 0 /E, we get:

E0

a =

Eth E0

Eth

dE E

dE E

I0 E ln 0 Eth

Thus we can write for the effective resonance integral:

I eff =

I0 N 1+ a s I0 E ln 0 Eth

(10)

and the resonance escape probability is now written as:

p = exp(

N a I eff s

(11)

This equation is valid for homogeneous reactors. Some values of I 0 are in Table 1.

Table 1: Values for infinitely dilute resonance integrals.

Nuclide Process

I0
(0.5-1.0 MeV)

I0
(0.5-1.0 MeV)

E ln 0 Eth
14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 14.5 15.7 15.7 15.7 14.5 15.7 15.7 15.7 14.5

90Th 90Th 91Pa

232 233

capture capture capture capture absorption fission

85 400 1200 300 1200 900 700 150 450 300 400 280 9000 1300

1500 3500 2000 1000 2800 1800 -

233

233 92U

234 92U 235 92U

capture capture absorption fission

236 92U 239 92U 239 94Pu

capture capture capture absorption fission

240 94Pu 241 94Pu

capture capture absorption fission

242 94Pu

capture

absorption = fission + capture

REFERENCES
1. M. Ragheb, Lecture Notes on Fission Reactors Design Theory, FSL-33, University of Illinois, 1982. 2. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1983.