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A Database of Critical Experiments


Development of a Database on Description of BFS and KOBR Critical Experiments and Their Interfacing with Analytical Tools

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-EXP/Experiments/Fission Reactors
  • FIR-NOT/Nuclear and Other Technical Data/Fission Reactors

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
FEI (IPPE), Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk


  • International Atomic Energy Agency, Austria, Vienna\nIdaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, USA, ID, Idaho Falls\nInternational Atomic Energy Agency / Nuclear Power Technology Development Section, Austria, Vienna\nKorea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), Korea, Yuseong

Project summary

Forty years ago a family of BFS facilities has been established in IPPE. In different moments of its history it has involved BFS-1, BFS-2, KOBR, BR-1 and MATR facilities. BFS-1, BFS-2 and KOBR have identical structure differing from each other by the vessel shape, height and volume only.

Since a start-up of the first of them a lot of experimental neutron physics researches for a reactor application have been carried out there. At BFS and KOBR facilities they included studies of both integral nuclear characteristics of fast reactor materials (fuel and structural materials, coolants, fission products, minor actinides etc.) in different spectral conditions and reactor mock-ups parameters for the variety of reactor projects (BN-350, BN-600, BN-800, BN-1600, SUPERPHENIX, CAPRA, KALIMER, CEFR, LWR, BREST-OD-300, MA burners, fast breeder reactors etc.). Special physics studies have been implemented at BR-1 hard neutron spectrum and MATR thermal neutron spectrum cores.

Beside the tremendous amount of experimental information accumulated during these years a great experience on the experimental methods utilization and experimental tools development has been also obtained.

All these data are conserved in different kinds of reports and publications being often inadequately described. It is necessary to note that a rather big set of experimental techniques is used at the experiments on fast critical assemblies. And no formats have been specially developed to conserve those experiments descriptions in a full and proper manner.

The old experimental team is retiring taking away their valuable knowledge that is also a matter of an essential anxiety.

The valuable data are lost but to the maximum practicable extent they must be recovered for the experience conservation in frames of a specialized database for the next generation.

In a simple case the database can be an ordinary storage of accumulated experience. But from the point of view of its professional optimization it must be a tool for active utilization by specialists carrying out and analyzing the experiments, especially in future. Consequently, a minimal requirement for development of special formats for the data conservation has to be extended. It means that a series of interfaces to provide access to the data, their easy understanding, visualization, possibilities of various and convenient processing types has to be developed. Special utilities for facilitating of the analytical work like selections, search, topical reports, data filtering, descriptions of experimental methods and tools etc. should be also developed.

Formats for experimental data conservation have to be developed; different kinds of interfaces to the data have to be developed (figures viewing, graphics presentations, options for analytical work, interfacing with the most important reactor physics codes to generate input models etc.) as well.

To collect the information to be included into the database a special search is required and different sources (BFS archives, IPPE library, publications, private records and files, etc.) have to be appealed. Some relevant materials should be scanned and placed into the database as complementary information.

The experimental data sources will be found and images of the relevant documents have to be placed into the database as a complementary information.

The experimental data placed into the database have to be objective and tested. Their verification will be implemented on the basis of IPPE nuclear data libraries and reactor physics codes. This will give guarantees in a reasonability and reliability of the incorporated data.

The experimental results will be tested and evaluated on the basis of qualified calculations.

Since a recent time the activity on the experimental knowledge preservation in the reactor physics area is arising in the world and is concentrated under the aegis of such institutions as OECD (IRPhE Project), USA DOE (ICSBE Project) and IAEA working in cooperation on these problems.

The expert recommendations developed in frames of these projects could be very useful for implementation of the proposed project from the point of view of compatibility of data formats, consistent utilization of a reactor physics codes set, cooperation with independent experts for the data evaluation.

Expert recommendations of international cooperation group (NEA/OECD, IAEA, DOE/USA) on experimental reactor physics knowledge preservation will be taken into account.

As soon as the experimental information is collected, the formats and interfaces for the data incorporation are developed a possibility appears to put the data into the database. Ideally this part of the work should not be finished just after the contract completion and is expected to be permanent all the time experimental data are accumulated.

The scopes of the data inventory to be incorporated into the database in frames of the project have to demonstrate the efficiency of the system being scientifically valuable at the same time. For this reason typical experimental programs implemented at different fast critical facilities of SSC RF-IPPE in the past are proposed as a pilot inventory:

For BFS-1 facility:

– a version of BFS-61 assembly with a mixed uranium and plutonium fuel and lead as a coolant 1. I.P. Matveenko et al. “Experimental investigations of BREST-OD-300 reactor characteristics at BFS facility”. In: Working materials for IAEA-AG-1076, IWG-FR/104, pp. 204-239, Vienna, Austria, 2001.;

– a version of BFS-67 assembly with a mixed uranium and plutonium fuel involving some amount of neptunium in the centre and sodium as a coolant1. Belov S.P. et al. “Investigation of MA transmutation problem in benchmark experiments at BFS facility with neptunium in fuel composition”. Proc. int. conf. on the physics of reactors PHYSOR-96 “Breakthrough of Nuclear Energy by Reactor Physics”, Sep. 16-20, 1996, Mito, Japan, vol. 4, p. M-82. 2. V.A. Dulin et al. “The summary experimental results for BFS-67, -69 and -71 cores with the neptunium fuel”. Proc. int. conf. on Future Nuclear Systems GLOBAL’97, Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 5-10, 1997, vol. 1, pp. 344-348. 3. I.V.Mikhailova, V.A. Dulin «Np-237 и Am-241 Capture Cross-Sections Testing in Experiments at Critical Assemblies». «Yadernaya Energetika», is. 3, 1998 (Rus.). 4. V.A. Dulin, I.V.Mikhailova, A.M.Tsiboulia «Np-237 and Am-241 Capture to U-235 Fission Cross-Sections Ratios Measurements by a Reactivity Method», «Atomnaya Energiya», v. 84, is. 6, p. 535 (Rus.).

For BFS-2 facility:

– a version of BFS-24 assembly simulating uranium fuelled fast reactor with aluminum instead of sodium coolant 1. Y.H. Bouget et al. “Etude d’interaction de barres dans les assemblages critiques BFS-24-16”. In: Proceedings of a symposium, Aix-en-Provence, Sep. 24-28, 1979 jointly organized by IAEA and NEA (OECD), “Fast reactor physics”, IAEA-SM-244/74, vol.1, p. 21, 1980;

– a version of uranium free plutonium fuelled BFS-58 assembly with sodium as a coolant 1. I.Yu. Krivitski et al. “Calculation analysis of the critical assembly BFS-58-/1 simulating fast reactor core with uranium free fuel”. – Transactions of ENC’98 Congress, Nice, France, Oct.25-28, 1998, vol. IV, pp. 90-94; 2. S.P. Belov et al. “Modeling of the fast reactor core with fuel without U-238 and inert matrix at a critical assembly of BFS-2 stand”. – Transactions of ENC’98 Congress, Nice, France, Oct.25-28, 1998, vol. IV, pp. 105-109.

For KOBR facility:

– uranium fuelled KBR-4 assembly simulating fast gas-cooled reactor spectrum 1. N.N. Ponomarev-Stepnoy et al.. «Studies of Neutron Physics Parameters of BGR-300 Fast Neutrons Reactor with Helium». - In.: «Voprosy atomnoi nauki i tekhniki», ser. «Phizika i tekhnika yadernykh reaktorov», is. 5 (18), 1981 (Rus.). 2.A.N. Protsenko et al.. «Studies of Neutron Physics Parameters of BGR-300 Helium on Critical Assemblies». – In.: « Voprosy atomnoi nauki i tekhniki», ser. «Atomno-vodorodnaya energetika i tekhnologiya», is. 1 (6), 1980 (Rus.).

Physics investigations carried out on the assemblies were based on a typical set of experimental methods used for such kind of studies. Mainly they are: critical state fixing, fission rates distribution measurements in core, fission cross-sections ratios, control rods simulators, core sodium voiding efficiencies, material reactivity worth.

The scope of the pilot inventory is involving a series of BFS-24, BFS-58, BFS-61, BFS-67 and KBR-4 assemblies’ versions.

The whole work is subpided on the four directions:

Task 1 will be devoted to development of experimental data formats and interfaces.

Task 2 will be concentrated on a search and retrieving of experimental data from all possible sources.

Task 3 will be connected with a development of export interfaces for benchmark calculations.

Task 4 will provide evaluation of the experimental data incorporated into the database.


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