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This site is dedicated to the subject of basic reactor behavior as needed by nuclear reactor operators everywhere in order to understand and safely operate a nuclear reactor. The treatment is limited to thermal reactors only, some topics being generic, and other topics being specific to the typical commercial U.S. Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) and Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs) which are fueled with slightly enriched uranium. No attempt is made to address the subject of fast reactors or reactors using other fuel types.
The purpose of utilizing the web is to allow ease of access and to attain the widest possible dissemination in order to counter much conventional wisdom about reactor behavior that is seriously flawed. The innovative concepts found herein provide unique insight into the real nature of thermal reactor behavior and are found in no other training resource. ... RGS (8/12/01)
Two versions of the Reactor Trainer exist. For several years, a licensed Professional Edition has been used by Nuclear Training Center instructors for class room learning. Now, because of many requests by instructors and students for a version usable on their personal computers, the simplified Student Edition is being made available in 2004 as freeware. Every reactor operator, every prospective reactor operator, all nuclear engineers, and all students in a nuclear engineering programs are invited to use the Student Edition as an invaluable tool of their profession.
The Reactor Trainers (both PWR and BWR models) present graphical displays of important basic reactor concepts and real time reactor behavior. Possible operational evolutions include reactor startup, heatup, power escalation, and shutdown. The Professional Edition of the Reactor Trainer remains available by license for a nominal fee.
See "Student Edition" in the index below. 7/8/04
Based on the balance equations, this essay presents a number of key expressions in their complete form, as they should have been presented in the first place. The result is that these expressions give exact numeric results and clearly reveal the underlying physical process associated with reactor behavior.
The operational approximations now in use break down for certain conditons, e.g. the source multiplication equation fails at criticality and beyond, the prompt jump equation fails for large keff, and the reactor period equation fails at prompt criticality. This is not surprising since a key term in the neutron balance was "thrown out" at the very start. Then, when the corrupted results are applied to extreme conditions, they fail. This does little for student confidence in the theory.
In current training of reactor operators, the propagating factor for the chain reactions, commonly known as keff, is not properly defined to account for delayed neutrons. If we can't get keff right to start with, then there is definitely a very real problem. ... RGS 5/29/04)
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