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An important parameter in the design and analysis of a nuclear reactor is the reactivity worth of the control rod which is a measure of the efficiency of the control rod to absorb excess reactivity. During reactor operation, the control rod worth is affected by factors such as fuel burnup, Xenon concentration, Samarium concentration and position of the control rod in the core. This study investigates and utilizes the operational data of the reactor to determine the control rod worth of Nigeria research reactor – 1 (NIRR – 1) after 7 years of operation. The reactor operational data were exported from the reactor computer system (logbook) to Microsoft excel spread sheet and were analyzed in terms of the neutron flux and burn up time. The initial number of atoms in the cadmium rod was calculated using the dimension of the control rod and equation 3.8 and is found to be 8.8705554 x 1046/mole. The final number of atoms in the cadmium rod was calculated using a decay equation (equation 3.5) to be 8.8346840 x 1046/mole. The fractional change in the number of atoms was estimated from the results and the control rod worth was determined to be 6.97mk. The shutdown margin (SDM) and the safety reactivity factor (SRF) were also evaluated from the result and were found to be 3.08mk and 1.79 respectively. Since the reactivity worth of control elements will change due to both the depletion of control absorber nuclei and changes in the core power distribution, control management analysis must continually monitor the worth of the control system component throughout core life in order to maintain both an adequate shutdown margin and sufficient operating maneuverability.
Nuclear reactors are initially loaded with a significantly large amount of fuel than that
required to achieve criticality, because the intrinsic multiplication factor of the core will change
during operation due to fuel burn-up and fission products. Sufficient excess reactivity is also
provided to compensate for negative reactivity feedback effects due to temperature and power
defects reactivity (Dudersadt, 1976). Therefore the core loading or enrichment will be
determined by the desire to build into the core enough excess reactivity to allow power operation
for a predetermined period of time.
The basic purpose of the reactor control system is to provide a means for starting the
reactor, that is, bringing the power output up to the desired level, for maintaining it at that level,
and for shutting it down in the course of routine operations. As an adjunct to the control system,
a power reactor has a protection system designed to shut the reactor down automatically in the
event that potentially unsafe conditions should arise. Safety rods was also designed and proposed
for MNSR facilities (Ibrahim et al, 2012). An essential requirement of the control system is that
it must be capable of introducing enough negative reactivity to compensate for the built-in
(positive) reactivity at initial startup of the reactor (Glasstone and Sesonke, 1967)
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