Reactor Physics

Research issues in reactor physics are changing along with changes in the nuclear industry. As no new power reactors have been built in the U.S. recently, the issues have moved to enhancing the performance of the more than 100 U.S. power-generating reactors, further improving their capacity factors and reliability, and extending their life.

All of these refinements require more accurate descriptions in several areas of reactor physics as well as in the related computer codes. The School has enjoyed a strong reputation in reactor physics and kinetics method development. In fact, kinetics methods developed by Purdue faculty have been used worldwide.

Performance improvements are also desirable in fuel management. Light water reactor economics can be improved by careful planning of fuel design and refuel periods. Research in optimizing short- and long-term fuel cycles and designing and scheduling core reloads is carried out in coordination with electric power utilities and reactor and nuclear fuel suppliers.

The PUR-1 is modeled in all details using the AGENT code system. The PUR-1, a pool reactor of unique design, is used for a variety of thesis research problems in addition to serving students as an instructional tool.

The Nuclear Transport Research Facility, associated with the reactor, is a natural uranium-graphite-moderated subcritical assembly with supporting instrumentation for the study of reactor characteristics. The Nuclear Instrumentation Laboratory is completely equipped with a variety of detectors, electronic systems, and an assortment of radioactive sources. Also available are four multichannel analyzers, X-Y plotters and other major equipment.