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Lecture Notes for Criticality Safety

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This chapter has laid the ground work for the study of the combinations and shapes of materials necessary to produce a chain-reaction - called a criticality event. 1-23 2. 1 The Principle of the Chain Reaction Figure 2-1 illustrates the feedback process that occurs in a sustained chain reaction. 75 Firsion Neutron Spectrum MeV. At this energy, the fission crosssection is quite small but it increases generally as l/v. A criticality requires fissionable material, neutrons, and Group 1 surrounding material to slow down the neutrons and to retain neutrons to continue causing fissions.

For a large assembly such as a reactor lattice, this takes the form of a horizontal or vertical split bed. The assembly is divided in half; one half is stationary and the other is movable. The two halves are slowly moved together, and neutron multiplication is measured. If multiplication becomes excessive, during the approach of the two halves, indicating the onset of criticality, the halves are quickly separated. The process is similar for highly enriched, spherical geometries, such as those investigated at Los Alamos or Livermore Laboratories.

402 S 2 - 3 m - 40’ VI $ 5 I 2 4 a 2 ua 2 Y I n VI coo 5 2 1 6 ’ 10-2 2 5 40-1 2 5 URANIUM CONCENTRATION too 2 5 40’ 2 (hp U / l ) Figure 3-3 Multi-Parameter U-235 Spherical Sub-criticality Limits Figure 3-3 presents multiparameter limits for a sphere of U-235 aqueous solution as a function of uranium concentration and sphere mass. 5 cm of water reflection. 05 kg U l t , or about 500 hydrogen atoms for every uranium atom. Figure 3-4 shows multiparameter limits for U-235 solution in slab geometry.

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