Research Reactor Benchmark Experiments

with Luka Snoj, Head of Reactor Physics Division,
Jozef Stefan Institute,
Adjunct Professor of VT Nuclear Engineering Program

November 10, 2023, 10:10 am, via zoom

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The role of benchmark experiments for progress in nuclear science and technology, especially in the context of research reactors, cannot be overestimated. These experiments are essential for the validation of calculation methods and models used in reactor physics and safety analyses, as well as production and validation of nuclear data. Within the framework of OCED/NEA, two projects are running with the aim of obtaining experimental data from the past, namely IRPhEP and ICSBEP. However, new experiments are needed to support the development of new codes and new reactor concepts.

The talk will present the basics of benchmarking activities in the field of reactor physics, focussing on the evaluation of experimental uncertainties. Subsequently, the two most comprehensive projects for the compilation of benchmark experiments will be presented. The main part of the presentation will focus on benchmark experiments performed at the TRIGA MArk II reactor of the Jožef Stefan Institute. We will present examples of criticality experiments, reaction rate profile measurements, measurements of control rod reactivity and burn-up. We will show that a small and relatively old research reactor with a relatively low neutron flux (~1e12 n/cm2s) is still able to efficiently support the further development of nuclear reactor technologies by performing benchmark experiments to validate state-of-the-art computer codes.

Luka Snoj received the Diploma and PhD thesis in Physics from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2005 and 2009, respectively. In 2010, he was on 6 months postdoctoral position at Culham centre for Fusion Energy, where he was charge of neutron transport calculations to support JET neutron yield calibration. In 2010 has been appointed head of TRIGA reactor at the Jozef Stefan Institute (JSI). Since 2014 he has been head of reactor physics division at the Jozef Stefan Institute. He is very active in teaching; reactor and radiation physics, experimental reactor physics at the Faculty of mathematics and physics where in 2019 he was elected associate professor. He has been advisor to 13 master and 4 PhD theses and is advisor to 4 PhD students. His research interest is mainly theoretical reactor physics related to practical applications in power and research reactors, in particular: Monte Carlo transport of neutrons and photons in fission and fusion nuclear reactors, integral reactor experiments, criticality experiments and calculations. He regularly performs evaluations and evaluation reviews of critical and reactor physics experiments for International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP) and International Reactor Physics Experiment Evaluation (IRPhE) Project working groups under OECD/NEA.