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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 71-76

Neutron spectral and dose distribution studies during fast reactor fuel fabrication

Health Physics Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Kousiki Ghosh
Health Physics Division, 1/AF, Bidhannagar, Kolkata - 700 064
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-0464.147277

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In mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facilities, the fabrication of MOX fuel involves various metallurgical operations such as mixing and milling of weighed quantities of uranium and plutonium oxides, precompaction, granulation of precompacts, final compaction of granules, sintering of green pellets, followed by fuel pin fabrication. All these operations are carried out in glove boxes, which have complex geometries due to housing of various equipments. Plutonium, a source of neutrons, is handled in large quantities in various forms such as powder, granules, pellets and pellets encapsulated in pins during these operations. It is obvious that extensive knowledge on the neutron spectral distributions in workplace is required from radiation protection and shielding point of view. In this paper, a brief introduction to the source of neutrons in MOX fuel handling facilities, studies that include experimental measurements of neutron spectra of various forms of MOX, contribution of neutron fluence in various energy groups and its dose equivalent, establishment of a simulation procedure for glove boxes handling Pu using FLUKA Monte Carlo codes, comparison of simulation results with the actual experimental measurements are presented. The results indicate that bare PuO 2 and MOX sources require 3 mm of lead shield to eliminate gamma interference in MICROSPEC with N-probe neutron spectrometer. Furthermore, the studies reveal that dose equivalent contribution from MOX pellets is very significant in the energy group of 1.0-1.5 MeV unlike PuO 2 powder and fuel pins, which exhibit significant contribution in the energy groups of both 1.0-1.5 MeV and 2.0-3.0 MeV. Also, the fuel pins show high neutron fluence in the energy group of 0.0-0.01 MeV, but they do not contribute significantly to dose equivalent. A good agreement between experimentally measured data and FLUKA simulated results has been observed.

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