# Burnup Fraction – Fission Burnup

## Burnup Fraction – Fission Burnup

Engineers sometimes use fission burnup or the burnup fraction as a useful unit of fuel burnup. This unit expresses the number of fission normalised to the initial number of uranium nuclei (or another fissionable nuclei). Fission burnup is the proportion of heavy nuclei placed in the reactor core that have undergone nuclear fission either directly or after conversion. In general 1% in fission burnup is approximately equal to 10,000 MWd/tU.

Therefore, PWRs, which have an initial load of about 4% of uranium 235 (96% of uranium 238), reach about 4% of burnup fraction.

## Fuel Burnup – Core Burnup

In nuclear engineering, fuel burnup (also known as fuel utilization) is a measure of how much energy is extracted from a nuclear fuel and a measure of fuel depletion. The most commonly defined as the fission energy release per unit mass of fuel in megawatt-days per metric ton of heavy metal of uranium (MWd/tHM), or similar units. Fuel burnup defines energy release as well as it defines isotopic composition of irradiated fuel. Since during refueling, every 12 to 18 months, some of the fuel – usually one third or one quarter of the core – is replaced by a fresh fuel assemblies and power distribution is not uniform in the core, reactor engineers distinguish between:

• Core Burnup. Averaged burnup over entire core (i.e. over all fuel assemblies). For example – BUcore = 25 000 MWd/tHM
• Fuel Assembly Burnup.  Averaged burnup over single assembly  (i.e. over all fuel pins of a single fuel assembly). For example – BUFA = 40 000 MWd/tHM
• Pin Burnup. Averaged burnup over single fuel pin or fuel rod (over all fuel pellets of a single fuel pin). For example – BUpin = 45 000 MWd/tHM
• Local or Fine Mesh Burnup. Burnup significantly varies also within single fuel pellet. For example, the local burnup at the rim of the UO2 pellet can be 2–3 times higher than the average pellet burnup. This local anomaly causes formation of a structure known as High Burnup Structure.

References:
Nuclear and Reactor Physics:
1. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1983).
2. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.
3. W. M. Stacey, Nuclear Reactor Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN: 0- 471-39127-1.
4. Glasstone, Sesonske. Nuclear Reactor Engineering: Reactor Systems Engineering, Springer; 4th edition, 1994, ISBN: 978-0412985317
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6. G.R.Keepin. Physics of Nuclear Kinetics. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co; 1st edition, 1965
7. Robert Reed Burn, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Operation, 1988.
8. U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Physics and Reactor Theory. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.