Evaluating the Diffusion Approximation Capability on the Integral Pressurized Water Reactor (IPWR) Core Calculation
Diffusion approximation is an important approximation used to model a nuclear reactor core with a quite good accuracy and less computational cost. This approximation has been used widely around the globe for various kinds of nuclear reactors. This diffusion approximation is applied in a two-step method, a method combining a high fidelity transport code and low fidelity diffusion code. Meanwhile, innovations in the nuclear core model continue to make the nuclear reactor core safer, more robust, and smaller. The trend of creating smaller and more modular reactor core is emerging in the last ten years. These innovations will affect the core modeling system. Consequently, for smaller reactors, it is important to evaluate the capability of diffusion approximation if one wants to use a computationally cheaper method to model the reactor core. In this paper, neutron diffusion calculation for 160 MWth integral pressurized water reactor (IPWR) core was conducted using the PARCS nodal diffusion code employing the few-group spatially homogenized cross-sections generated by the Serpent Monte Carlo code. Due to its capability to model any reactor geometry in the high-resolution calculation, the results from Serpent were also used as a reference. Two important parameters are compared between PARCS and Serpent: effective neutron multiplication factor and core power distribution. For the full IPWR core model, a discrepancy of 564 pcm between PARCS and Serpent keff was observed, while the radial power distribution had a maximum error of 4.71 %. It can be said, to some extent, that the diffusion approximation can be applied to IPWR core analysis. However, further improvement is indeed required if one wants more accurate results with low computational costs.
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