22.091 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Nuclear Reactor Safety


[RAK] = Knief, R. A. Nuclear Engineering: Theory and Technology of Commercial Nuclear Power. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Hemisphere, 1992. ISBN: 9781560320890.

[MMEW] = El-Wakil, M. M. Nuclear Energy Conversion. Scranton, PA: Intext Educational Publishers, 1971. ISBN: 9780700223107.

MITR reactor manipulations assignment (PDF)

PRISM problem set (PDF)

Simulator assignment (PDF)


Overview, goals of course

Review of reactor types

Read chapter 1, problems 1.9, 1.10, and 1.12 [RAK]

Read chapter 2, problems 2.7 and 2.12 [RAK]

Read chapter 4 [RAK]

2 Review of reactor physics Read chapter 4, problem 4.3, 5, 8, 10, 11, 14, and 15 [RAK]
3 Review of reactor kinetics and control

Read chapter 5, problems: 1, 4, 6, and 9 [RAK]

Read chapter 6 for next class [RAK]


Review of feedback effects and depletion

Fuel depletion and related effects

Read chapter 6, problems: 6.2, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 15 [RAK]
5 MIT reactor physics exercise – power change – feedbacks MITR reactor manipulations assignment handed out

Reactor heat removal

MITR experiment

Read Knief chapter 7, problems 7.2, 5, 6, and 8 [RAK]

7 Design issues: power cycles for nuclear plants

Read chapters 8, 9, and 10 [RAK]

Outside reading El-Wakil, problems: 2.7 and 7.4 [MMEW]

8 Power cycles for nuclear plants – Rankine and Brayton Cycle

Handout problem

MITR assignment due


Power cycles continued

Safety systems and functions

Read chapter 13, problems: 13.3, 13.5, 13.8, and 13.12 extra: 13.11 [RAK]

Safety systems and functions

Safety analysis report and LOCA

Read chapter 14, problems: 14.9, 11, 12, 21, and 23 [RAK]

PRISM assignment due


Safety analysis report and LOCA

Probabilistic safety analysis

Problems 14.12, 16, 19, 23, 24, and 28 [RAK]

Safety goals and risk informed decision making

Integration of safety analysis into operational requirements

Use the reactor oversight process site and identify the key safety issues in the last 2 quarters of the reactor nearest your home.

Based on the review of the performance indicators, identify the particular NRC inspection reports upon which the finding is based.

Summarize your review in a two page memo about the condition of this plant and the corrective actions being taken.

Are you satisfied with the safety of this plant?


Integration of safety analysis into operational requirements

Simulation exercises of accidents and transients

Do PRISM problem set

Simulation exercises of accidents and transients

Boiling water reactors

Read BWR handouts

Problem 3.3 [MMEW]

PRISM assignment due 1 week after Ses #15


Simulator exercise – Seabrook PWR – LOCA, steam line break, etc

Pilgrim general description

Simulator assignment handed out

Preparation for simulator exercise - BWR

Three Mile Island Accident

Read RogovinReport executive summary

Analyze event from the perspective of why the accident happened and why it became a such serious problem. (Beyond the obvious of failing to recognize the open PORV). Given your experience in the simulators (recall that the simulator you were in did not represent control rooms of the 1970’s).

- Consider operator training
- Regulations
- Technical response
- Knowledge
- Control room design and instrumentation
- Fundamental design of reactor
- Management culture

Read steam generator report for background on designs: 3 pages of analysis


Simulator exercise – Pilgrim BWR – LOCA, steam line break, rod repositioning

Chernobyl accident

Read chapter 15, problems 3, 10, 20, 27, and 32 [RAK]

Significant nuclear accidents – Three Mile Island

Davis Besse Near Miss 2002

Review the FENOC (Davis Besse) request for continued operation sent in late 2001 to justify operation until the spring out.

Based on the information provided and the experience with Alloy 600, provide a technically based answer to the request – you may want to review the NRC letter granting approval to see if you agree – why and why not.


Significant nuclear accidents – Chernobyl

Safety culture

Safety culture is an important aspect of safe nuclear plant support and operations. At present it is not “regulated” by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and only indirectly assessed by INPO.

Question: If you were a regulator, what regulation would you suggest with associated metrics to regulate safety culture? Please specifically identify the metric and how it will be measured considering all the factors associated with safety culture. Justify your answer.

Read Sorensen article on “Safety Culture: A Survey of the State of the Art”.

Due Ses #25 – 2 pages

Simulator assignment due

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008
Learning Resource Types
notes Lecture Notes
grading Exams
theaters Lecture Videos
assignment Problem Sets
assignment Programming Assignments
assignment Written Assignments