22.091 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Nuclear Reactor Safety


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

Problems in nuclear engineering often involve applying knowledge from many disciplines simultaneously in achieving satisfactory solutions. The course will focus on understanding the complete nuclear reactor system including the balance of plant, support systems and resulting interdependencies affecting the overall safety of the plant and regulatory oversight. Both the Seabrook and Pilgrim nuclear plant simulators will be used as part of the educational experience to provide as realistic as possible understanding of nuclear power systems short of being at the reactor.

Course Requirements


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

Supplemental Text for Power Conversion Lectures

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


Assigned every class, due next class after date of assignment. Late homework will receive up to 1/2 full credit.


Homework 15%
Exam 1 30%
Exam 2 30%
Final exam 25%

MIT Literature Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.



Overview, goals of course

Review of reactor types

2 Review of reactor physics  
3 Review of reactor kinetics and control  
4 Review of feedback effects and depletion  
5 MIT reactor physics exercise – power change – feedbacks  

Reactor heat removal

MITR experiment

7 Design issues: power cycles for nuclear plants  
8 Power cycles for nuclear plants – Rankine and Brayton cycle MITR assignment due
9 Power cycles continued  
10 Safety systems and functions

Exam 1 is a week after Ses #10

PRISM assignment due

11 Safety analysis report and LOCA  
12 Probabilistic safety analysis  
13 Safety goals and risk informed decision making  
14 Integration of safety analysis into operational requirements  
15 Simulation exercises of accidents and transients  
16 Boiling water reactors  
17 Seabrook background information and preparation for simulator exercise PRISM assignment due
18 Simulator exercise – Seabrook PWR – LOCA, steam line break, etc  
19 Preparation for simulator exercise – BWR  
20 Simulator exercise – Pilgrim BWR – LOCA, steam line break, rod repositioning  
21 Significant nuclear accidents – Three Mile Island  
22 Significant nuclear accidents – Chernobyl Simulator assignment due
23 Importance of precursors – Davis Besse Near Miss 2002  
24 Role of safety culture Exam 2 is 2 days after Ses #24
25 Current regulatory issues  
26 Advanced reactor designs – EPR, ABWR, ESBWR, AP-1000, Pebble Bed Reactor Final exam is 1 week after Ses #26

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