Addressing technical and scientific issues around nuclear criticality safety


The WPNCS bi-annual event brought together 80 experts from 17 NEA member countries

How do nuclear data uncertainties affect the inventory calculation of used nuclear fuels for burn up credit applications? What is the impact of the randomisation models when assessing the return to criticality of unknown geometries?

These are among the questions addressed by the Working Party on Nuclear Criticality Safety (WPNCS)  and its subgroups during the week of 24-28 January 2022. This bi-annual event brought together 80 experts from 17 member countries as well as EU representatives to address key topics in the field of nuclear criticality safety. The work of the WPNCS typically supports the optimisation of operations on fissile material, including used nuclear fuels, as encountered in transport, recycling and storage, and further improves our understanding of the criticality risk.

The participants in the January event, which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, also addressed the preservation of experimental data on used fuel inventory and decay heat, and how to best rely on integral benchmark experiments to derive the bias and uncertainties of a critical configuration.

The working party reviewed the progress made so far in preparing for the 2023 edition of the International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Safety (ICNC), to be held in Sendai, Japan, and endorsed the launch of a new activity on the assessment of decay heat estimates, which shall start during the first half of 2022. Finally, work to be published soon was discussed, including prioritised experimental needs to be addressed at a global level, and preservation of expert knowledge.

The next WPNCS series of meetings will take place in June and July 2022.

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