October 3, 2016: PhD public defence - Luca Fiorito - Nuclear data uncertainty propagation and uncertainty quantification in nuclear codes - ULB

Name: Luca Fiorito

Date: October 3, 2016 16:30 h


Université Libre de Bruxelles 
Solbosch campus
building C, level 2, room C2.223  
Details at http://www.ulb.ac.be/campus/solbosch/plan-C.html

Nuclear data uncertainty propagation and uncertainty quantification in nuclear codes

Uncertainties in nuclear model responses must be quantified to define safety limits, minimize costs and define operational conditions in design. Response uncertainties can also be used to provide a feedback on the quality and reliability of parameter evaluations, such as nuclear data. The uncertainties of the predictive model responses sprout from several sources, e.g. nuclear data, model approximations, numerical solvers, influence of random variables. It was proved that the largest quantifiable sources of uncertainty in nuclear models, such as neutronics and burnup calculations, are the nuclear data, which are provided as evaluated best estimates and uncertainties/covariances in data libraries. Nuclear data uncertainties and/or covariances must be propagated to the model responses with dedicated uncertainty propagation tools. However, most of the nuclear codes for neutronics and burnup models do not have these capabilities and produce best-estimate results without uncertainties. In this work, the nuclear data uncertainty propagation was concentrated on the SCK•CEN code burnup ALEPH-2 and the Monte Carlo N-Particle code MCNP.

Two sensitivity analysis procedures, i.e. FSAP and ASAP, based on linear perturbation theory were implemented in ALEPH-2. These routines can propagate nuclear data uncertainties in pure decay models. ASAP and ALEPH-2 were tested and validated against the decay heat and uncertainty quantification for several fission pulses and for the MYRRHA subcritical system. The decay uncertainty is necessary to define the reliability of the decay heat removal systems and prevent overheating and mechanical failure of the reactor components. It was proved that the propagation of independent fission yield and decay data uncertainties can be carried out with ASAP also in neutron irradiation models. Because of the ASAP limitations, the Monte Carlo sampling solver NUDUNA was used to propagate cross section covariances. 

The applicability constraints of ASAP drove our studies towards the development of a tool that could propagate the uncertainty of any nuclear datum. In addition, the uncertainty propagation tool was supposed to operate with multiple nuclear codes and systems, including non-linear models. The Monte Carlo sampling code SANDY was developed. SANDY is independent of the predictive model, as it only interacts with the nuclear data in input. Nuclear data are sampled from multivariate probability density functions and propagated through the model according to the Monte Carlo sampling theory. Not only can SANDY propagate nuclear data uncertainties and covariances to the model responses, but it is also able to identify the impact of each uncertainty contributor by decomposing the response variance. SANDY was extensively tested against integral parameters and was used to quantify the neutron multipliction factor uncertainty of the VENUS-F reactor.

Further uncertainty propagation studies were carried out for the burnup models of light water reactor benchmarks. Our studies identified fission yields as the largest source of uncertainy for the nuclide density evolution curves of several fission products. However, the current data libraries provide evaluated fission yields and uncertainties devoid of covariance matrices. The lack of fission yield covariance information does not comply with the conservation equations that apply to a fission model, and generates inconsistency in the nuclear data. In this work, we generated fission yield covariance matrices using a generalised least-square method and a set of physical constraints. The fission yield covariance matrices solve the inconsistency in the nuclear data libraries and reduce the role of the fission yields in the uncertainty quantification of burnup models responses. 


  •  (ULB) Pierre-Etienne Labeau
SCK•CEN mentor:
  •  Alexey Stankovskiy

Click here for a list of obtained PhD degrees.