Journal article Open Access

Neutron Noise Fluctuations. Parcs vs Core Sim Simulations

N. Olmo-Juan; C. Demazière; T. Barrachina; R. Miró; G. Verdú

In a nuclear reactor, even operating at full power and steady-state conditions, fluctuations are detected in the recording of any process parameter. These fluctuations (also called noise) could be of various origins, such as, turbulence, mechanical vibrations, coolant boiling, etc. The monitoring and complete comprehension of those parameters should thus allow detecting, using existing instrumentation and without introducing any external perturbation to the system, possible anomalies before they have any inadvertent effect on plant safety and availability. In order to reproduce and study the induced neutron noise in a nuclear reactor core, it is compulsory to develop suitable tools. Existing time-domain codes were originally not developed for this type of calculations. Modifications of those codes and the development of an associated intricate methodology are necessary for enabling noise calculations. This involves, in some cases, changes in the source code and the development of new auxiliary tools to ensure accurate reproductions of the core behavior under the existence of a neutron noise source. In the proposed work, the time-domain neutron diffusion code PARCS is used to model the effect of stationary perturbations representative of given neutron noise sources. In order to validate the feasibility of the time-dependent methodology thus developed, comparisons with the results of simulations performed in the frequency domain, using the CORE SIM tool, developed at Chalmers University of Technology, are performed. The development of a few test cases based on a real reactor model are undertaken as the basis for such comparisons and a methodology aimed at assessing the time-domain simulations versus the frequency-domain simulations is established. It is demonstrated that PARCS, although not primarily developed for neutron noise calculations, can reproduce neutron noise patterns for reasonable frequencies. However, it is also observed that unphysical results are occasionally obtained.

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