Essential physics for fuel cycle modeling
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Nuclear fuel cycles (NFC) are the collection of interconnected processes which generate electricity through nuclear power. Due to the high degree of coupling between components even in the simplest cycles, the need for a dynamic fuel cycle simulator and analysis framework arises. The work presented herein develops essential physics models of nuclear power reactors and incorporate them into a NFC simulation framework. First, a one-energy group reactor model is demonstrated. This essential physics model is then to simulate a sampling fuel cycles which are perturbations of well known base-case cycles. Because the NFC may now be simulated quickly, stochastically modeling many fuel cycle realizations dramatically expands the parameter space which may be analyzed. Finally, a multigroup reactor model which incorporates spectral changes as a function of burnup is presented to increase the fidelity of the original one-group reactor. These methods form a suite of modeling technologies which reach from the lowest levels (individual components) to the highest (inter-cycle comparisons). Prior to the development of this model suite, such broad-ranging analysis had been unrealistic to perform. The work here thus presents a new, multi-scale approach to fuel cycle system design.