Reactor physics course in Politecnico di Torino

Participants and lecturers of the short course on “Neutron noise techniques – theory and applications”, Politecnico di Torino, Turin 2019. Photographer: Giuseppe Francesco Nallo.

Recently, Dr. Gilad was invited by Prof. Piero Ravetto and Prof. Sandra Dulla of Politecnico di Torino to teach a two weeks graduate course at the nuclear engineering and modeling program (NEMO group) of the Department of Energy. The title of the course was “Neutron noise techniques – theory and applications” and it was taught between January 8-22, 2019, within the framework of the graduate course on reactor physics and neutron transport given by Prof. Ravetto.

The course included the following topics:

  • Theoretical background underlying standard neutron noise techniques, e.g., Feynman-α (variance-to-mean ratio), cross- & auto-correlation Power Spectral Density (APSD/CPSD).
  • Application of these techniques in nuclear reactors, including the reactor experimental setup design, neutron detectors, acquisition systems, and the output signal data.
  • Theory and application of reactivity oscillation technique.
  • Dead-time correction techniques.

In general, the lectures included topics and concepts from probability theory and Fourier analysis, e.g., random variables, stochastic processes, Poisson and Exponential probability distribution functions, Fourier and Laplace transforms, and the zero-power transfer function of the reactor core.

The lectures covered the basic textbook theory of each of the topics and examples for its application in a nuclear reactor. Additionally, the lectures included also some advanced topics, which were based on the work that Dr. Gilad and his colleagues performed during the past 4 years on this subject, including:

  • Experimental estimation of the delayed neutron fraction βeff of a reactor core using reactivity oscillations techniques and higher Fourier harmonics.
  • Dead time corrections using the backward extrapolation method and its application to higher moments noise techniques, e.g., Feynman-α.
  • The sensitivity of power spectral density (PSD) methods to its numerical parameters.
  • Simultaneous evaluation of the core kinetic parameters and its reactivity using noise techniques.

This course was a unique and valuable opportunity to visit Politecnico di Torino as a lecturer and to become acquainted with its teaching methodology and graduate research supervision. The graduate students of Dipartimento Energia were focused and involved and were responsible for the excellent atmosphere during the course. Finally, Prof. Ravetto and Prof. Dulla were excellent hosts and actually made this course possible. They deserve the highest appreciation.  

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