The new modeling approach, called eTLE, aims to improve the accuracy of a basic tool for estimating the behavior of neutrons in 3D space. This study examines the approach in detail – confirming its reliability in predicting neutron scattering in crystalline media.
Tripoli-4® is a tool used by researchers to simulate the behavior of interacting neutrons in 3D space. Recently, researchers developed a new “next event estimator” (NEE) for Tripoli-4®. Called eTLE, this approach aims to improve the accuracy of Tripoli-4® using Monte Carlo simulations: a class of algorithms that solve problems by repeatedly evaluating the characteristics of an entire population of neutrons by selecting random groups of individuals. Thanks to new research published in EPJ Plus, a team led by Henri Houtine of the French Commission for Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy first implemented and verified the reliability of eTLE.
Since neutron production is a key element of nuclear fission reactions, this increased accuracy could ultimately help improve the safety of nuclear reactors. The success of eTLE depends on the transfer and decay of neutrons through the medium being mathematically predictable. Until now, the use of NEE to predict this transport has been hindered by treating neutrons as simple gases of interacting particles. In a crystalline environment, this causes the angles they follow when scattered from each other to take on discrete values - barring certain angles that might be useful for understanding the general behavior of neutrons.
In their study, the Hutinet team examined the results of eTLE’s Monte Carlo-based approach to estimating neutron behavior. To confirm their findings, they used classical unbiased NEE as a benchmark to study multiple scattering neutrons in crystalline media including graphite and beryllium. Their results revealed a strong agreement between these classical estimators and eTLE: a significant improvement over previous NEE approaches for Tripoli-4®. By removing the need for discrete scattering angles, the team’s work could now pave the way for nuclear reactor operators to predict the behavior of neutrons much more accurately in the future.