Nuclear Engineering Division

The DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program

J. Morman and R. Bucher load

J. Morman and R. Bucher load samples into the ZPR-6 critical assembly for material worth measurements. Click on image to view larger image.

The DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program (NCSP) is focused on maintaining fundamental infrastructure that enables retention of DOE capabilities and expertise in nuclear criticality safety necessary to support line criticality safety programs. The focus of the NCSP is to improve the technical knowledge of criticality safety personnel and improve the availability and use of criticality safety information, tools and guidance throughout the DOE complex. This program has taken on increased importance in recent years because of the new challenges arising in the areas of stockpile stewardship, increased safeguards requirements and cleanup of weapons production sites.

The DOE Criticality Safety Support Group (CSSG)

NE personnel participate in the programs and planning of the Nuclear Criticality Safety Program (NCSP) and the DOE Criticality Safety Support Group (CSSG). The NCSP is a comprehensive, crosscutting program that integrates the need to maintain the US criticality safety infrastructure with effective support for criticality safety programs throughout the DOE complex. Tasks within the NCSP include maintenance of a critical experiments program, development of advanced analysis methods, creation of a benchmark experiment library, development of NCS training materials and collection and dissemination of criticality safety data, including historical experiment records.

The NCSP includes the following seven technical program elements:

  • Critical Experiments
  • Benchmarking
  • Nuclear Data
  • Analytical Methods
  • Applicable Ranges of Bounding Curves and Data
  • Information Preservation and Dissemination
  • Training and Qualification

Program element tasks are coordinated by the NCSP Manager with technical support from the Criticality Safety Support Group (CSSG), a group of subject matter experts from DOE field offices and national laboratories. Argonne/NE is represented on the CSSG by J. Morman. More information on the NCSP can be found at its web site

NE Participation in the NCSP

NE participates in several task areas of the NCSP and provides input guidance to every area. Evaluation of ZPR and ZPPR assemblies for inclusion in the handbook of criticality safety benchmark experiments is led by the NE Criticality Safety Group as part of the benchmark task. NE personnel work on reviewing new cross section evaluations produced under the data element of the NCSP. Support for maintenance of the VIM code and some development of new methods is provided by the analytical methods task. Information preservation provides funds to collect and digitally archive the log books and loading records from the numerous ZPR and ZPPR critical facilities. The training and qualification task provides funds to NE for the development of criticality safety training modules that are published on the NCSP web site.

Last Modified: Thu, April 21, 2016 4:49 AM



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For more information:

Nuclear Criticality Safety Section
Sec. Manager: R. McKnight
Fax:  +1 630-252-4500