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Multi-step Monte Carlo calculations applied tonuclear reactor instrumentation - source definition and renormalization to physical values

Abstract : Significant efforts have been made over the lastfew years in the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) to adopt multi-step Monte Carlo calculation schemes in the investigation and interpretation of the response of nuclear reactor instrumentation detectors (e.g.miniature ionization chambers - MICs and self-powered neutron or gamma detectors - SPNDs and SPGDs). The first step consists of the calculation of the primary data, i.e. evaluation of the neutron and gamma flux levels and spectra in the environment where the detector is located, using a computational model of the complete nuclear reactor core and its surroundings. Thesedata are subsequently used to define sources for the following calculation steps, in which only a model of the detector under investigation is used. This approach enables calculations withsatisfactory statistical uncertainties (of the order of a few %) within regions which are very small in size (the typical volume of which is of the order of 1 mm$^3$). The main drawback of a calculation scheme as described above is that perturbation effects on the radiation conditions caused by the detectors themselves are not taken into account. Depending on the detector, the nuclear reactor and the irradiation position,the perturbation in the neutron flux as primary data may reach 10 to 20%. A further issue is whether the model used in the second step calculations yields physically representative results. This is generally not the case, as significant deviations may arise, depending on the source definition. In particular, as presentedin the paper, the injudicious use of special ptions aimed at increasing the computation efficiency (e.g. reflective boundary conditions) may introduce unphysical bias in the calculated flux levels and distortions in the spectral shapes. This paper presents examples of the issues described above related to a case study on the interpretation of the signal from differenttypes of SPNDs, which were recently irradiated in the Jozef Stefan Institute TRIGA Mark II reactor in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and provides recommendations on how they can be overcome.The paper concludes with a discussion on the renormalization of the results from the second step calculations, to obtain accurate physical values.
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V. Radulovic, L. Barbot, D. Fourmentel, J.-F. Villard, G. Zerovnik, et al.. Multi-step Monte Carlo calculations applied tonuclear reactor instrumentation - source definition and renormalization to physical values. ANIMMA 2015 - 4th International Conference on Advancements in Nuclear Instrumentation, Measurement Methods and their Applications, Apr 2015, Lisbonne, Portugal. ⟨cea-02500845⟩

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