National Criticality Experiments Research Center (NCERC) - capabilities and recent measurements
Los Alamos National Laboratory, P.O. Box 1663, Los Alamos, NM 87545
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Published online: 30 September 2020
The National Criticality Experiments Research Center (NCERC) located at the Device Assembly Facility (DAF) at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is home to four critical assemblies which are used to support of range of missions, including nuclear criticality safety and nuclear nonproliferation. Additionally, subcritical systems can also be assembled at NCERC. NCERC is providing critical and subcritical experiments valuable to the nuclear data community and experiments performed at NCERC are often published as benchmarks in the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP) Handbook. This manuscript will give a broad overview of recent experiments performed at NCERC, upcoming experiments, and why integral measurements are important and useful to the nuclear data community.
The four critical assemblies are GODIVA IV, FLATTOP, COMET, and PLANET. GODIVA IV is a cylindrical metal fast burst reactor, the fourth in the GODIVA series that dates back to the 1950’s. FLATTOP is an highly enriched uranium (HEU) or Pu core reflected by natural uranium. COMET and PLANET are vertical lift assemblies, where one half of the reactor can be lifted to the upper half of the reactor to create a critical system. Some recent experiments include various critical intermediate energy assemblies with lead, and subcritical measurements of plutonium reflected by copper, tungsten, and nickel. Work is also underway to make a better measurement of the critical mass of neptunium, using a neptunium sphere surrounded by nickel shells. Additionally, measurements will be performed next year with HEU shells from Rocky Flats. These HEU shells will be stacked together to make larger systems, allowing for a large range of criticality (from subcritical to delayed critical). Other upcoming measurements include an HEU critical assembly sensitive to intermediate energy neutrons.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
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