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 Neutron Science and Reactor Physics  posted by  member150_php   on 2/26/2009  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Bernard, John A., 22.05 Neutron Science and Reactor Physics, Fall 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare),  (Accessed 07 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Neutron Science and Reactor Physics

Fall 2006

MIT's nuclear reactor, a smooth white dome with two spires.
The MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory is a tank-type reactor. The fuel elements of uranium are positioned in a hexagonal core structure at the bottom of the core tank, while power is controlled by six shim blades and an automatic regulating rod. The pressure in the system is roughly atmospheric, and the maximum temperature approximately 120 degrees F. (Image courtesy of William McGee. Used with permission.)

Course Description

This course introduces fundamental properties of the neutron. It covers reactions induced by neutrons, nuclear fission, slowing down of neutrons in infinite media, diffusion theory, the few-group approximation, point kinetics, and fission-product poisoning. We emphasize the nuclear physics basis of reactor design and its relationship to reactor engineering problems.


Course Objective

The central problem of reactor physics can be stated quite simply. It is to compute, for any time t, the characteristics of the free-neutron population throughout an extended region of space containing an arbitrary, but known, mixture of materials. Specifically we wish to know the number of neutrons in any infinitesimal volume dV that have kinetic energies between E and E + ΔE and are traveling in directions within an infinitesimal angle of a fixed direction specified by the unit vector Ω.

If this number is known, we can use the basic data obtained experimentally and theoretically from low-energy neutron physics to predict the rates at which all possible nuclear reactions, including fission, will take place throughout the region. Thus we can predict how much nuclear power will be generated at any given time at any location in the region.


The text book for this course is:

 Lamarsh, John. Introduction to Nuclear Engineering. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. ISBN: 9780201824988.
This covers basic reactor physics as part of a complete survey of nuclear engineering.

Readings may also be assigned from certain of the books listed below:

 Henry, A. F. Nuclear Reactor Analysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1975. ISBN: 9780262080811.

 Shultis, J., and R. Faw. Fundamentals of Nuclear Science and Engineering. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker, 2002. ISBN: 9780824708344.

 Hewitt, G., and J. Collier. Introduction to Nuclear Power. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis, 2000. ISBN: 9781560324546.

 Turner, J. Atoms, Radiation, and Radiation Protection. New York, NY: Pergamon Press, 1986. ISBN: 9780080319377.

 Kneif, R. Nuclear Criticality Safety: Theory and Practice. American Nuclear Society, 1985. ISBN: 9780894480287.

 Knoll, G. Radiation Detection and Measurement. New York, NY: Wiley, 2000. ISBN: 9780471073383.

Grading Policy

Homework 20%
Four exams (20% each; lowest grade is dropped) 60%
Final exam (3.0 hours) 20%


Lec # Topics
1 Introduction/reactor layout and classification
2 Chart of nuclides/neutron sources
3 Neutron reactions/Boltzman distribution/number density
4 Neutron cross-sections
5 Binding energy/liquid drop model/fission process
  Tour of MIT research reactor
6 Burners, converters, breeders/neutron life cycle
7 Neutron life cycle
8 Criticality accidents/why is radiation dangerous
9 Neutron flux, reaction rates, current
10 One velocity model
  Exam 1
11 Non-multiplying media
12 Multiplying media
13 Criticality conditions
14 Kinematics of neutron scattering
15 Group diffusion method
16 Solution of group equations
  Exam 2
17 Energy dependence of flux
18 Group theory/four factor formula
19 Reactors of finite size
20 Reactors of multiple regions: One group
21 Reactors of multiple regions: Two group
22 Application of the two-group equations
23 Few group and multi-group approaches
24 Monte Carlo analysis
  Exam 3
25 Subcritical multiplication and reactor startup
26 Reactor operation without feedback
27 Analytic solution of reactor kinetics
28 Dynamic period and inhour equation
29 Reactor operation with feedback effects
30 Achievement of feedback effects/Chernobyl
  Exam 4
31 Shutdown margin/review of TMI
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