Comparison among MCNP-based depletion codes applied to burnup calculations of pebble-bed HTR lattices

E. Bomboni, N. Cerullo, E. Fridman, G. Lomonaco, E. Shwageraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The double-heterogeneity characterising pebble-bed high temperature reactors (HTRs) makes Monte Carlo based calculation tools the most suitable for detailed core analyses. These codes can be successfully used to predict the isotopic evolution during irradiation of the fuel of this kind of cores. At the moment, there are many computational systems based on MCNP that are available for performing depletion calculation. All these systems use MCNP to supply problem dependent fluxes and/or microscopic cross sections to the depletion module. This latter then calculates the isotopic evolution of the fuel resolving Bateman's equations. In this paper, a comparative analysis of three different MCNP-based depletion codes is performed: Montburns2.0, MCNPX2.6.0 and BGCore. Monteburns code can be considered as the reference code for HTR calculations, since it has been already verified during HTR-N and HTR-N1 EU project. All calculations have been performed on a reference model representing an infinite lattice of thorium-plutonium fuelled pebbles. The evolution of k-inf as a function of burnup has been compared, as well as the inventory of the important actinides. The k-inf comparison among the codes shows a good agreement during the entire burnup history with the maximum difference lower than 1%. The actinide inventory prediction agrees well. However significant discrepancy in Am and Cm concentrations calculated by MCNPX as compared to those of Monteburns and BGCore has been observed. This is mainly due to different Am-241 (n,γ) branching ratio utilized by the codes. The important advantage of BGCore is its significantly lower execution time required to perform considered depletion calculations. While providing reasonably accurate results BGCore runs depletion problem about two times faster than Monteburns and two to five times faster than MCNPX.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-924
Number of pages7
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2010


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