Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Zeyun Wu


The National Bureau of Standards Reactor (NBSR) located on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Gaithersburg campus, is currently underway of fuel conversion from high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. One particular challenging part of the conversion of the NBSR is the high average flux level (2.5×1014 n/cm2-s) required to maintain experimental testing capabilities of the reactor, without significant changes to the external structures of the reactor. Recently the General Atomics (GA) Training Research Isotopes General Atomics (TRIGA) fuel has shown some promising features as a LEU candidate for the high performance research reactors such as the NBSR. The GA fuel has a long history of success in conversion of research reactors since it was developed in 1980s. The UZrH compound in the GA fuel has seen success in long term TRIGA reactors, and is a proven safe LEU alternative. This study performs a neutronics evaluation of the TRIGA fuel under the schema of the NBSR’s heavy conversion requirements in order to examine whether the TRIGA fuel is a viable option for conversion of the NBSR. To determine the most optimal path of conversion, we performed a feasibility study with particular regard to the fuel dimensions, fuel rod configurations, cladding, as well as fuel structure selection. Based on the outcome of the feasibility study, an equilibrium core is then generated following the NBSR’s current fuel management schema. Key neutronics performance characteristics including flux distribution, power distribution, control rod (i.e., shim arms) worth, as well as kinetics parameters of the equilibrium core are calculated and evaluated. MCNP6, a Monte Carlo based computational modeling software was intensively used to aid in these calculations. The results of this study will provide important insight on the effectiveness of conversion, as well as determine the viability of the conversion from HEU to LEU using the GA fuel.


© Kyle Anthony Britton

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