34594 - Non-conventional Plants for Power Production (Graduate Course)

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 student acquires knowledge on unconventional systems for the production of energy on an industrial scale and in particular of fission electro-nuclear type (BWR reactors, Boiling Water Reactors, PWR, Pressurized Water Reactor, and other innovative ) with particular reference to the basic thermo-hydraulic design and to the entire life cycle of the nuclear plant.

Course contents

The course is characterized by lectures and lab activities. The lectures provide an overview of the design of nuclear systems, while the laboratories illustrate different nuclear  facilities through the use of simulation software.

The topics covered in the course are as follows:

1. Nuclear energy in nuclear reactors. Production of energy. General information on nuclear reactors of I, II, III and IV generation. Thermodynamic cycles. Parameters for thermal and neutron design. Conversion and breeding rate.

2. Fission and heat sources in nuclear reactors. Fission, chain reaction, energy released. Multi-scale neutron model. Outline of three-dimensional neutron transport models. Kinetic point models with reactivity inserts. Thermal sources in  fuel,  moderator and structure materials.

3. Heat exchange in nuclear  reactors. Multi-scale thermal model. Conduction and convection in  three-dimensional cores. Point model for the transport of heat in the core and primary loop. Introduction to the thermal design and study of transients for thermal-hydraulic point model.

4. The neutronic-thermo-hydraulic system of nuclear reactors. Interaction of the core with primary and secondary circuits. Study of the neutron-thermo-hydraulic coupled system with counter-reaction.

5. Nuclear systems architecture. Classification of reactors, main functions and subsystems. Light water reactors (LWR). Heavy water reactors (HWR). Gas reactors (Magnox, AGR, HTGR). Fast reactors (FBR).  Innovative  and Generation IV reactors.

6. The fuel cycle. Open cycle and closed cycle. The cycle for HWR reactors. The cycle for fast reactors. Enrichment of uranium.  Production of heavy water.

The PWR, BWR and HWR nuclear reactor models will be mainly studied through the use of simulation software that illustrate the application of the theoretical concepts. These simulation software, "Nuclear Reactor Simulators for Education and Training", can be viewed at https://www.iaea.org/topics/nuclear-power-reactors/nuclear-reactor-simulators-for-education-and-training. At the end of the labs the student will be asked to draw up a project that simulates ignition, power change, shutdown of the reactor and malfunctions with the aforementioned software by checking and modifying the thermodynamic basic parameters and the main operating regimes.


Reference text:

It is not necessary to purchase specific texts. Teacher notes are available with lesson slides.

This material can be found by username and password at AMS Campus - AlmaDL - University of Bologna.


Recommended texts and further information:

M. Cumo, Nuclear Installations, UTET, 1976 M. M. El-Wakil, Nuclear Power Engineering, McGraw-Hill, 1962

C. Lombardi, Nuclear Facilities, CLUP, 2003 L.S.Tong, J.Weisman, Thermal analysis of pressurized water reactor, ANS, 1979

J.R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, Addison-Wesley, 1976 E:

Sobrero, Notes of the lessons held at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Bologna, 1975.

Teaching methods

The students will have theoretical lectures in  classroom and laboratories for the simulation of LWR and HWR reactors.

Conventional lectures in the classroom.

Teaching material: the teaching material presented in class will be made available to the student in electronic format via the Internet. This material should be printed.

Laboratory activity.

The simulation programs are those of the European "Nuclear Reactor Simulators for Education and Training" program which can be viewed at web https: //www.iaea.org/topics/nuclear-power-reactors/nuclear-reactor-simulators-for-education -and-training. The teaching material presented in the laboratories will be made available to the student in electronic format via the Internet.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of two parts: a written exam and a project.

The written exam consists of three questions on the topics of  section 2-4:

1) A question concerning  the neutronics  topics reported in section 2: score 0-5.

2) A question concerning nuclear reactor thermo-hydraulics on topics reported in section 3: score 0-5.

3) A question regarding  thermohydraulics-neutronics coupling on the topics reported in section 4: score 0-6.

At the end of the laboratories the student will be asked to draw up a project that simulates ignition, power change, shutdown of the reactor and malfunctions with the software mentioned above: score 0-16


The final vote is the sum of these two votes. The student who reaches the 30/32 score get the honor mark.

Teaching tools

The course is integrated with the software "Nuclear Reactor Simulators for Education and Training" which can be viewed at web

https: //www.iaea.org/topics/nuclear-power-reactors/nuclear-reactor-simulators-for-education- and training.

Office hours

See the website of Sandro Manservisi