34611 - Neutronics and Plasma M

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Affordable and clean energy Industry, innovation and infrastructure Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The module has his focus on theory and practice. It is dedicated to the tools for the core design of nuclear fission reactors and the modelling of some critical characteristics of the plasma in nuclear fusion test devices.

The underlying mathematical, physics and programming aspects are taken into account, from transport theory to linear neutron transport equation and its elementary approximations as implemented into the core design codes and from the study of interacting charged particles to the plasma modelling in an electromagnetic field, plasma macroscopic equations, MHD and classical instabilities issues with respect to the codes devoted to plasma behaviour analysis.

Course contents

Neutron Transport and Plasma Physics

Section I: Introductory Remarks

1)    Elements of Basic Nuclear Reactor Physics, nuclear data and cross-sections

Section II: Plasma Physics

1)    Introduction to Controlled Nuclear Fusion Devices

2)    Plasma Parameters

3)    Kinetic Equations

4)    Vlasov  Equation

5)    Landau Damping

6)    Drift Phenomena

7)    Macroscopic Equations

8)    One & Two Fluid Model

9)    Magnetic Confinement

10)  Magnetic Mirror

11)  Wave Propagation

12)  PIC simulation codes

13)  Plasma confinement codes

Section III: Neutron Transport

1)    Neutron Transport Equation

2)    The Eigenvalue Problem

3)    Time Dependent Equation: Delayed Neutron Emission

4)    Transport Equation and Diffusion Approximation

5)    Diffusion Equation Models for Multiplying Structures

6)    Neutron Slowing-down and Age Theory

7)    Variational Approach and FE codes

8)   Application to the core design tools

Practical sessions devoted to programming in FORTRAN, C and Python in a Linux environment


  1. B. Montagnini, Dispense dalle Lezioni

  2. A. Hebert, Applied Reactor Physics, Presses Internationales Polytechnique, 2009

  3. G. I. Bell, S. Glasstone, Nuclear Reactor Theory, van Nostrand Reynold, 1970

  4. C. K. Birdsall, A. B. Langdon, Plasma Physics via Computer Simulation, Adam Hilger, 1991

  5. T. M Boyd, J. J. Sanderson, The Physics of Plasmas, Cambridge University Press, 2003

  6. N. A. Krall,A. W. Trivelpiece, Principles of Plasma Physics, Mc Graw Hill, 1973

  7. F. F. Chen, Introduction to Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, Springer, 1984

  8. William Emrich, Jr., Principles of Nuclear Rocket Propulsion, Elsevier, 2016

Teaching methods

  • Frontal Instruction
  • Experiential learning trough numerical exercises

Assessment methods

Prepare a project on nuclear reactor core design or on plasma device simulations using reference codes

Teaching tools

Open source computer codes for the nuclear reactor core design, Particle In Cell plasma simulation codes and equilibrium plasma configuration modelling in Tokamaks (Grad-Shafranov equation solution).

Office hours

See the website of Marco Sumini