Critical experiments on single-unit spherical plutonium geometries reflected and moderated by oil [electronic resource].
- Washington, D.C. : United States. Dept. of Energy, 1997.
Oak Ridge, Tenn. : Distributed by the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Physical Description:
- 251 pages : digital, PDF file
- Additional Creators:
- Lockheed Idaho Technologies Company
United States. Department of Energy
United States. Department of Energy. Office of Scientific and Technical Information
- Experimental critical configurations are reported for several dozen spherical and hemispherical single-unit assemblies of plutonium metal. Most were solid but many were hollow-centered, thick, shell-like geometries. All were constructed of nested plutonium (mostly ²¹³⁹Pu) metal hemispherical shells. Three kinds of critical configurations are reported. Two required interpolation and/or extrapolation of data to obtain the critical mass because reflector conditions were essentially infinite. The first finds the plutonium essentially fully reflected by a hydrogen-rich oil; the second is essentially unreflected. The third kind reports the critical oil reflector height above a large plutonium metal assembly of accurately known mass (no interpolation required) when that mass was too great to permit full oil reflection. Some configurations had thicknesses of mild steel just outside the plutonium metal, separating it from the oil. These experiments were performed at the Rocky Flats Critical Mass Laboratory in the late 1960s. They have not been published in a form suitable for benchmark-quality comparisons against state-of-the-art computational techniques until this paper. The age of the data and other factors lead to some difficulty in reconstructing aspects of the program and may, in turn, decrease confidence in certain details. Whenever this is true, the point is acknowledged. The plutonium metal was alpha-phase ²³⁹Pu containing 5.9 wt-% ²⁴°Pu. All assemblies were formed by nesting 1.667-mm-thick (nominal) bare plutonium metal hemispherical shells, also called hemishells, until the desired configuration was achieved. Very small tolerance gaps machined into radial dimensions reduced the effective density a small amount in all cases. Steel components were also nested hemispherical shells; but these were nominally 3.333-mm thick. Oil was used as the reflector because of its chemical compatibility with plutonium metal.
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- Funding Information:
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