When a massive tsunami knocked out power to the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan two years ago, Argonne personnel combed the countryside to measure radiation levels around the reactors. Other Argonne scientists consulted for the Department of Energy, lending their expertise in the very scenario that experts believed took place at Fukushima: nuclear fuel eroding the concrete floor beneath the reactor.
Fires at a nuclear power plant are a safety concern because of their potential to defeat the redundant safety features that provide a high level of assurance of the ability to safely shutdown the plant. One of the added complexities of providing protection against fires is the need to determine the likelihood of electrical cable failure which can lead to the loss of the ability to control or spurious actuation of equipment that is required for safe shutdown.
Although low probability containment failure modes in nuclear power plants may lead to large releases of radioactive material, these modes are typically crudely modeled in system level codes and have large associated uncertainties. More recently, dynamic probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) techniques have been developed which are capable of mechanistically and consistently exploring the effects of rare phenomena on these low probability failure modes while accounting for the associated uncertainties.
Dr. Sutton will begin by giving a brief description of the MC21 Monte Carlo neutron and photon transport code jointly developed by the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory and the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. He will then discuss two recent research projects undertaken using MC21. The first is a method for minimizing the largest statistical uncertainties in Monte Carlo reactor calculations.
Summer 2013 issue of the biannual Argonne Now science magazine, featuring cover stories "How Your Smartphone Got So Smart," "The Grid of the Future," and "A True Sense of Security" as well as science news, haiku, history, and more.
How fast reactor physics differs from thermal reactor physics, and how the fast spectrum allows pursuit of various strategic objectives, e.g., resource extension, actinide burnup in lieu of disposal, weapons material disposition.