Nuclear Technology and Radiation Protection 2012 Volume 27, Issue 1, Pages: 75-83
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A proposal for a new U-D2O criticality benchmark: RB reactor core 39/1978

Pešić Milan P.

In 1958, the experimental RB reactor was designed as a heavy water critical assembly with natural uranium metal rods. It was the first nuclear fission critical facility at the Boris Kidrič (now Vinča) Institute of Nuclear Sciences in the former Yugoslavia. The first non-reflected, unshielded core was assembled in an aluminium tank, at a distance of around 4 m from all adjacent surfaces, so as to achieve as low as possible neutron back reflection to the core. The 2% enriched uranium metal and 80% enriched uranium dioxide (dispersed in aluminum) fuel elements (known as slugs) were obtained from the USSR in 1960 and 1976, respectively. The so-called “clean” cores of the RB reactor were assembled from a single type of fuel elements. The “mixed” cores of the RB reactor, assembled from two or three types of different fuel elements, were also positioned in heavy water. Both types of cores can be composed as square lattices with different pitches, covering a range of 7 cm to 24 cm. A radial heavy water reflector of various thicknesses usually surrounds the cores. Up to 2006, four sets of clean cores (44 core configurations) have been accepted as criticality benchmarks and included into the OECD ICSBEP Handbook. The RB mixed core 39/1978 was made of 31 natural uranium metal rods positioned in heavy water, in a lattice with a pitch of 8√2 cm and 78

Keywords: RB critical assembly, heavy water, criticality benchmark