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Educating Next Generation Nuclear
Criticality Safety Engineers at the
Idaho National Laboratory

John D. Bess
J. Blair Briggs
Idaho National Laboratory

Adolf S. Garcia
U.S. Department of Energy - Idaho


      International Conference on Nuclear Criticality
                    Edinburgh, Scotland
                  September 19-22, 2011

     This paper was prepared at Idaho National Laboratory for the U.S.
    Department of Energy under Contract Number (DE-AC07-05ID14517)
Educating the Next Generation of Nuclear
Criticality and Reactor Safety Professionals
• Challenge of a New Nuclear Safety Workforce:
  – Provide assessment of nuclear systems and establish
    safety guidelines without significant experience or
    hands-on training prior to graduation

• Benchmark Analysis Participation in the
  ICSBEP/IRPhEP:
  – ICSBEP – International Criticality Safety Benchmark
    Evaluation Project
  – IRPhEP – International Reactor Physics Experiment
    Evaluation Project
  – Provide students and young professionals with the
    opportunity to gain experience and enhance critical
    engineering skills.




                                                          2
Why Do We Have Nuclear Benchmarks?
• Criticality Safety      • Research and
   – Plant Operations       Development
   – Transportation          – New Reactor Designs
   – Waste Disposal          – Design Validation
   – Experimentation      • Computational Methods
   – Accident Analysis       – Cross-Section Data
   – Standards               – Code Verification
     Development          • Fundamental Physics
• Materials                  – Model Validation
   – Testing              • Fun
   – Physics Validation
   – Interrogation



                                                     3
How Does Benchmark Design Apply to You?




                                          4
International Criticality Safety Benchmark
Evaluation Project (ICSBEP)
• Purpose:
   – Identify and verify comprehensive sets of critical
     benchmark data by reviewing documentation and
     talking with experimenters
   – Evaluate the data and quantify the overall uncertainty
     via sensitivity analyses
   – Compile the data into a standardized format
   – Perform calculations of each experiment with
     standard criticality safety codes
   – Formally document work into a single source
• http://icsbep.inl.gov
• icsbep@inl.gov



                                                              5
International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality
Safety Benchmark Experiments
September 2011 Edition
• 20 Contributing Countries
• Spans approximately 58,000
  Pages
• Evaluation of 533
  Experimental Series
• 4,551 Critical or Subcritical
  Configurations
• 24 Criticality-Alarm/Shielding
  Benchmark Configurations –
  numerous dose points each
• 155 fission rate and
  transmission measurements
  and reaction rate ratios for
  45 different materials


                                                  6
International Reactor Physics Experiment
Evaluation Project (IRPhEP)
• Similar to the ICSBEP
• Focus to collect data regarding the numerous
  experiments in support of nuclear energy and
  technology performed at research laboratories
• Experiments represent significant investments of
  time, infrastructure, expertise, and cost that might
  not have received adequate documentation
• Measurements also include data regarding reactivity
  measurements, reaction rates, buckling, burnup,
  etc., that are of significant worth for current and
  future research and development efforts
• http://irphep.inl.gov/
• irphep@inl.gov



                                                         7
International Handbook of Evaluated Reactor
Physics Benchmark Experiments
March 2011 Edition
• 16 Contributing Countries
• Data from 53 Experimental
  Series performed at 31
  Reactor Facilities
• Data from 48 are published as
  approved benchmarks
• Data from 5 are published in
  DRAFT form
• Handbook available to OECD
  member countries, all
  contributing countries, and to
  others on a case-by-case
  basis



                                              8
Measurement Types Included as IRPhEP
Benchmarks
• The IRPhEP benchmark report follows the same general
  guidelines as for the ICSBEP Handbook, but includes
  additional material:
   – Critical/Subcritical        – Kinetics
   – Buckling/Extrapolation        Measurements Data
     Length                      – Reaction-Rate
   – Spectral                      Distributions
     Characteristics             – Power Distribution
   – Reactivity Effects            Data
   – Reactivity Coefficient      – Isotopic Measurements
     Data                        – Miscellaneous

                             If it is worth measuring, then
                                   it is worth evaluating.


                                                              9
The Evaluation Process




                         10
Student Investigation Breeds Comprehension
• Benchmark procedures require investigation
  into
   – History and background
      • Purpose of experiment?
   – Experimental design and methods
   – Analytical capabilities and procedures
   – Experimental results
• Often experiments were performed with the
  intent to provide data for criticality safety
  assessments
   – Many are utilized to
     develop criticality
     safety standards



                                                  11
Culturing Good Engineering Judgment
• Often experimental information is incomplete
  or misleading
  – Contact original experimenters (if available)
  – Interact with professionals from the
    ICSBEP/IRPhEP community
  – Establish a personal network for the young
    professional engineer
   “Do, or do not.
       There is no ‘try’”
            - Jedi Master Yoda



                                                    12
Developing an Analytical Skill and Tool Set
• Evaluators develop analytical and computational
  capabilities throughout the evaluation process
  – Utility of conventional computational codes and
    neutron cross section data libraries
     • Monte Carlo or Diffusion methods
     • MCNP and KENO are the most common in the US
  – Application of perturbation theory and statistical
    analyses
     • Uncertainty evaluation
     • Bias assessment
  – Technical report writing
  – Understanding acceptability of results



                                                         13
Extensive International Review Process
•    ICSBEP and IRPhEP benchmarks are subject to extensive review.
      – Evaluator(s) – primary assessment of the benchmark.
      – Internal Reviewer(s) – in-house verification of the analysis
        and adherence to procedure.
      – Independent Reviewer(s) – external (often foreign) verification
        of the analysis.
      – Technical Workgroup Meeting – annual international effort to
        review all benchmarks prior to inclusion in the handbook.
          • Sometimes a subgroup is assigned to assess any final
            workgroup comments and revisions prior to publication.
      – Benchmarks are determined to be acceptable or unacceptable
        for use depending on availability of data, which translates
        into uncertainty in results.
          • All approved benchmarks are retained in the handbook.
          • Unacceptable data are published for documentation
            purposes, but benchmark specifications are not provided


                                                                          14
Opportunities for Involvement – I
• Internships               • Augmented
  – Traditional approach      Education
  – 10-weeks                  – Rigorous structure
                                for Master’s Thesis
  – Benchmark review
    process completed         – Mentor and peer-
    on “free-time” during       review network
    university studies        – Undergraduate thesis
  – Encouraged to             – Undergraduate team
    publish                     projects
                              – Encouraged to
                                publish



                                                       15
Opportunities for Involvement – II
• Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR)
  – Next Degree Program
     • Work as a part- or full-time subcontractor while
       completing a graduate degree
  – Via local or remote university participation
  – Opportunity for interaction with students
    participating in space nuclear activities
     • Other Next Degree students
     • Summer fellow students (interns)
  – Collaboration opportunities on other projects




                                                          16
Opportunities for Involvement – III
• Nuclear and Criticality Safety Engineers
  – Pilot program collaboration
       • Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA)
       • U.S. Department of Energy – Idaho (DOE-ID)
  –   Idaho State University and University of Idaho
  –   Graduate Nuclear Engineering Curriculum
  –   Part-time employment (full-time summer)
  –   Hands-on training, benchmarking, ANS meetings,
      thesis/dissertation work, shadow mentors, DOE
      and ANS standard development, etc.




                                                       17
Past and Present Student Involvement
• Since 1995, ~30
  students have
  participated in the
  ICSBEP and/or IRPhEP
  – 14 directly at INL
• Students have authored
  or coauthored over 50
  benchmark evaluations
  – 23 + 5 in progress at INL
• They have also
  submitted technical
  papers to various
  conferences and
  journals




                                       18
Current Student Benchmark Activities
•   ICSBEP                      •   IRPhEP
     – Slabs of Enriched             – Neutron Radiography
       Uranium Oxyfluoride             (NRAD) Reactor
     – Concrete-Reflected            – Small Compact Critical
       Enriched Uranium Metal          Assembly (SCCA)
       Cylinders                        •   UO2
     – Polyethylene-Reflected           •   2 × Graphite-Reflected
       Array of HEU Separated           •   1 × Beryllium-Reflected
       by Vermiculite                   •   Space Reactor
     – Arrays of Bottles with       – ISU AGN-201 Reactor
       Plutonium Nitrate            – Spherical Gas Core
       Solution                       Reactor Critical
     – Triangular Lattices of         Experiment
       2.49-cm-Diameter LEU             • UF6
       (5%) Rods in Water               • Space Reactor




                                                                      19
Conclusion
• Benchmarks represent an important means for
  developing and assessing a collection of
  nuclear experimental data
  – Application to criticality and reactor safety
  – Validation of nuclear activities
• Participation in the benchmark evaluation
  process can be of significant benefit to young
  professionals and their ultimate location of
  employment
• There exist many ongoing benchmarking
  activities through the ICSBEP and IRPhEP
• ICSBEP/IRPhEP Technical Review Group Chair
  – J. Blair Briggs, J.Briggs@inl.gov


                                                    20
¿Questions?




              21

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Benchmark Education

  • 1. Educating Next Generation Nuclear Criticality Safety Engineers at the Idaho National Laboratory John D. Bess J. Blair Briggs Idaho National Laboratory Adolf S. Garcia U.S. Department of Energy - Idaho International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Edinburgh, Scotland September 19-22, 2011 This paper was prepared at Idaho National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract Number (DE-AC07-05ID14517)
  • 2. Educating the Next Generation of Nuclear Criticality and Reactor Safety Professionals • Challenge of a New Nuclear Safety Workforce: – Provide assessment of nuclear systems and establish safety guidelines without significant experience or hands-on training prior to graduation • Benchmark Analysis Participation in the ICSBEP/IRPhEP: – ICSBEP – International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project – IRPhEP – International Reactor Physics Experiment Evaluation Project – Provide students and young professionals with the opportunity to gain experience and enhance critical engineering skills. 2
  • 3. Why Do We Have Nuclear Benchmarks? • Criticality Safety • Research and – Plant Operations Development – Transportation – New Reactor Designs – Waste Disposal – Design Validation – Experimentation • Computational Methods – Accident Analysis – Cross-Section Data – Standards – Code Verification Development • Fundamental Physics • Materials – Model Validation – Testing • Fun – Physics Validation – Interrogation 3
  • 4. How Does Benchmark Design Apply to You? 4
  • 5. International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP) • Purpose: – Identify and verify comprehensive sets of critical benchmark data by reviewing documentation and talking with experimenters – Evaluate the data and quantify the overall uncertainty via sensitivity analyses – Compile the data into a standardized format – Perform calculations of each experiment with standard criticality safety codes – Formally document work into a single source • http://icsbep.inl.gov • icsbep@inl.gov 5
  • 6. International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments September 2011 Edition • 20 Contributing Countries • Spans approximately 58,000 Pages • Evaluation of 533 Experimental Series • 4,551 Critical or Subcritical Configurations • 24 Criticality-Alarm/Shielding Benchmark Configurations – numerous dose points each • 155 fission rate and transmission measurements and reaction rate ratios for 45 different materials 6
  • 7. International Reactor Physics Experiment Evaluation Project (IRPhEP) • Similar to the ICSBEP • Focus to collect data regarding the numerous experiments in support of nuclear energy and technology performed at research laboratories • Experiments represent significant investments of time, infrastructure, expertise, and cost that might not have received adequate documentation • Measurements also include data regarding reactivity measurements, reaction rates, buckling, burnup, etc., that are of significant worth for current and future research and development efforts • http://irphep.inl.gov/ • irphep@inl.gov 7
  • 8. International Handbook of Evaluated Reactor Physics Benchmark Experiments March 2011 Edition • 16 Contributing Countries • Data from 53 Experimental Series performed at 31 Reactor Facilities • Data from 48 are published as approved benchmarks • Data from 5 are published in DRAFT form • Handbook available to OECD member countries, all contributing countries, and to others on a case-by-case basis 8
  • 9. Measurement Types Included as IRPhEP Benchmarks • The IRPhEP benchmark report follows the same general guidelines as for the ICSBEP Handbook, but includes additional material: – Critical/Subcritical – Kinetics – Buckling/Extrapolation Measurements Data Length – Reaction-Rate – Spectral Distributions Characteristics – Power Distribution – Reactivity Effects Data – Reactivity Coefficient – Isotopic Measurements Data – Miscellaneous If it is worth measuring, then it is worth evaluating. 9
  • 11. Student Investigation Breeds Comprehension • Benchmark procedures require investigation into – History and background • Purpose of experiment? – Experimental design and methods – Analytical capabilities and procedures – Experimental results • Often experiments were performed with the intent to provide data for criticality safety assessments – Many are utilized to develop criticality safety standards 11
  • 12. Culturing Good Engineering Judgment • Often experimental information is incomplete or misleading – Contact original experimenters (if available) – Interact with professionals from the ICSBEP/IRPhEP community – Establish a personal network for the young professional engineer “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’” - Jedi Master Yoda 12
  • 13. Developing an Analytical Skill and Tool Set • Evaluators develop analytical and computational capabilities throughout the evaluation process – Utility of conventional computational codes and neutron cross section data libraries • Monte Carlo or Diffusion methods • MCNP and KENO are the most common in the US – Application of perturbation theory and statistical analyses • Uncertainty evaluation • Bias assessment – Technical report writing – Understanding acceptability of results 13
  • 14. Extensive International Review Process • ICSBEP and IRPhEP benchmarks are subject to extensive review. – Evaluator(s) – primary assessment of the benchmark. – Internal Reviewer(s) – in-house verification of the analysis and adherence to procedure. – Independent Reviewer(s) – external (often foreign) verification of the analysis. – Technical Workgroup Meeting – annual international effort to review all benchmarks prior to inclusion in the handbook. • Sometimes a subgroup is assigned to assess any final workgroup comments and revisions prior to publication. – Benchmarks are determined to be acceptable or unacceptable for use depending on availability of data, which translates into uncertainty in results. • All approved benchmarks are retained in the handbook. • Unacceptable data are published for documentation purposes, but benchmark specifications are not provided 14
  • 15. Opportunities for Involvement – I • Internships • Augmented – Traditional approach Education – 10-weeks – Rigorous structure for Master’s Thesis – Benchmark review process completed – Mentor and peer- on “free-time” during review network university studies – Undergraduate thesis – Encouraged to – Undergraduate team publish projects – Encouraged to publish 15
  • 16. Opportunities for Involvement – II • Center for Space Nuclear Research (CSNR) – Next Degree Program • Work as a part- or full-time subcontractor while completing a graduate degree – Via local or remote university participation – Opportunity for interaction with students participating in space nuclear activities • Other Next Degree students • Summer fellow students (interns) – Collaboration opportunities on other projects 16
  • 17. Opportunities for Involvement – III • Nuclear and Criticality Safety Engineers – Pilot program collaboration • Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) • U.S. Department of Energy – Idaho (DOE-ID) – Idaho State University and University of Idaho – Graduate Nuclear Engineering Curriculum – Part-time employment (full-time summer) – Hands-on training, benchmarking, ANS meetings, thesis/dissertation work, shadow mentors, DOE and ANS standard development, etc. 17
  • 18. Past and Present Student Involvement • Since 1995, ~30 students have participated in the ICSBEP and/or IRPhEP – 14 directly at INL • Students have authored or coauthored over 50 benchmark evaluations – 23 + 5 in progress at INL • They have also submitted technical papers to various conferences and journals 18
  • 19. Current Student Benchmark Activities • ICSBEP • IRPhEP – Slabs of Enriched – Neutron Radiography Uranium Oxyfluoride (NRAD) Reactor – Concrete-Reflected – Small Compact Critical Enriched Uranium Metal Assembly (SCCA) Cylinders • UO2 – Polyethylene-Reflected • 2 × Graphite-Reflected Array of HEU Separated • 1 × Beryllium-Reflected by Vermiculite • Space Reactor – Arrays of Bottles with – ISU AGN-201 Reactor Plutonium Nitrate – Spherical Gas Core Solution Reactor Critical – Triangular Lattices of Experiment 2.49-cm-Diameter LEU • UF6 (5%) Rods in Water • Space Reactor 19
  • 20. Conclusion • Benchmarks represent an important means for developing and assessing a collection of nuclear experimental data – Application to criticality and reactor safety – Validation of nuclear activities • Participation in the benchmark evaluation process can be of significant benefit to young professionals and their ultimate location of employment • There exist many ongoing benchmarking activities through the ICSBEP and IRPhEP • ICSBEP/IRPhEP Technical Review Group Chair – J. Blair Briggs, J.Briggs@inl.gov 20