One of the most notable aspects of the Transformational Challenge Reactor (TCR) program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is the deployment of additive manufacturing technologies as part of the design process. Doctoral student Robby Kile, studying under NE Associate Professor Nick Brown, conducted research to verify the performance of the TCR designs under both normal operating conditions and accident scenarios. His findings were recently published in Nuclear Engineering and Design.
“This work demonstrates the application of sensitivity and uncertainty analysis tools as part of an integrated design process that has implications for hydride moderated microreactors,” said Ben Betzler, TCR Program director.
The nuclear reactors that are used today were designed and built decades ago using well-established manufacturing techniques. Those techniques presented constraints on how reactors could be designed; after all, we had to be able to build whatever reactors were designed.
Kile’s research involved testing two different transient scenarios: a reactivity-initiated incident, and a pressurized loss of forced cooling incident. His findings demonstrated that even in extremely severe events, the TCR fuel is expected to remain intact, preventing the release of radioactive material.
“My work was to conduct sensitivity and uncertainty studies, meaning that I created thousands of models for transients, varying different design and incident parameters to understand which parameters had the greatest impact on reactor performance,” said Kile. “I then passed that information back to the TCR design team, who could use it to identify which areas of the design needed more focus for optimizing the final design.”