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Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors
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Abstracts and Available Papers Presented at the
2002 International RERTR Meeting

Analysis of a possible experimental assessment of a prototype fuel element containing burnable poison in the RA-3 reactor

Lerner Ana Marķa, Madariaga Marcelo

Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear
(Nuclear Regulatory Authority)


The Argentine RA-3 research reactor (5 MW) is presently operated with LEU fuel by the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA). It belongs to the group of nuclear installations controlled, from the radiological and nuclear safety point of view, by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN).

A new type of fuel elements containing burnable absorbers, with similar enrichment as the standard fuel elements but greater fissile contents, has recently been proposed for a new Argentine reactor design (RRR). 

In this framework the ARN considers interesting, if technically possible, the performance of an experiment in the RA-3 reactor. The experiment might enable, for such fuel element containing burnable poison, the verification of its neutronic behaviour under irradiation as well as a validation of the calculation line by comparison to measured values.

It should be desirable that such experiment could reproduce as much as possible those conditions estimated for the RRR reactor, still under design in Argentina, having Silicide fuel elements with burnable poison, in the shape of cadmium wires in their structure.

We here analyse a possible experiment consisting in the loading of a prototype fuel element with burnable poison in a normally loaded RA-3 core configuration. It would essentially be a standard RA-3 fuel element, having cadmium wires in its frame. This experiment would enable the verification of the prototype behaviour under irradiation, its operation limits and conditions, and particularly, the reactivity safety margins established in Argentine Standards, both calculated and measured. The main part of the experiment would imply some 200 full power days of operation at 5 MW, which would be drastically reduced if the reactor power is increased to 10 MW, as foreseen.

We also show that under the proposed conditions, the experiment would not represent a significant penalty to the reactor normal operation.

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Dr. Ana Marķa Lerner

Argentine Nuclear Regulatory Authority
Avda. del Libertador 8250
C1429BNO Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: (54 11) 6323 1312
Fax: (54 11) 6323 1760
E-mail: [email protected]

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Last modified on July 29, 2008 11:33 +0200