Reactor physics
The Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory uses plate type fuel in a clover leaf arrangement. The blue glow around the core is known as Cherenkov radiation. Photo: Idaho National Laboratory.

Questions relating to the space, time end energy distribution of neutrons and radiation in different media are the domain of reactor physics. Experiments and computer simulations of static and time-dependent phenomena of nuclear technology are necessary to ensure the safe design and operation of nuclear facilities. Reactor physics serves as a boundary condition and input to many different physics and analyses of safety-related events.

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NEA work on this topic

A community of experts has been formed within the Working Party on Scientific Issues and Uncertainty Analysis of Reactor Systems (WPRS) which deals with reactor physics, radiation transport and dosimetry, core thermal-hydraulics, fuel performance, and associated multi-physics aspects, including coupling with other physics such as structural mechanics, and chemistry for present and future nuclear power systems. As such, it studies the modelling and simulation of reactor systems, verification and validation and uncertainties quantification associated with single and multi-physics phenomena.

The Expert Group on Physics of Reactor Systems (EGPRS) within the WPRS is responsible for advancing a wide range of steady state and transient neutronics predictions. The group provides state-of-the-art best estimate and uncertainty analysis for many types of reactor systems. 

Furthermore, a longstanding community evaluating reactor physics experimental data was formed with the support of the NEA at the turn of the millenium. The IRPhE Technical Review Group evaluates reactor physics benchmarks with well-defined uncertainties, in a standarised format aimed at using legacy and current experiments to underpin reactor physics simulations. This group produces the IRPhE Handbook.


WPRS Secretariat