Date of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Physics


David R. Novog


John C. Luxat




Comprehensive sensitivity and uncertainty analysis has been performed for light-water reactor and heavy-water reactor lattices using three techniques; adjoint-based sensitivity analysis, Monte Carlo sampling, and direct numerical perturbation. The adjoint analysis was performed using a widely accepted, commercially available code, whereas the Monte Carlo sampling and direct numerical perturbation were performed using new codes that were developed as part of this work. Uncertainties associated with fundamental nuclear data accompany evaluated nuclear data libraries in the form of covariance matrices. As nuclear data are important parameters in reactor physics calculations, any associated uncertainty causes a loss of confidence in the calculation results. The quantification of output uncertainties is necessary to adequately establish safety margins of nuclear facilities. In this work, the propagation of uncertainties associated with both physics parameters (e.g. microscopic cross-sections) and lattice model parameters (e.g. material temperature) have been investigated, and the uncertainty of all relevant lattice calculation outputs, including the neutron multiplication constant and few-group, homogenized cross-sections have been quantified. Sensitivity and uncertainty effects arising from the resonance self-shielding of microscopic cross-sections were addressed using a novel set of resonance integral corrections that are derived from perturbations in their infinite-dilution counterparts. It was found that the covariance of the U238 radiative capture cross-section was the dominant contributor to the uncertainties of lattice properties. Also, the uncertainty associated with the prediction of isotope concentrations during burnup is significant, even when uncertainties of fission yields and decay rates were neglected. Such burnup related uncertainties result solely due to the uncertainty of fission and radiative capture rates that arises from physics parameter covariance. The quantified uncertainties of lattice calculation outputs that are described in this work are suitable for use as input uncertainties to subsequent reactor physics calculations, including reactor core analysis employing neutron diffusion theory.

McMaster University Library

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