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Syllabus for

Academic year
FRE011 - Reactor physics
Owner: TTFYA
5,0 Credits (ECTS 7,5)
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Level: C
Department: 16 - PHYSICS

Teaching language: English
Minimum participants: 3
Maximum participants: 35

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 No Sp
0102 Oral examination 5,0 c Grading: TH   5,0 c    

In programs



Professor  Imre Pázsit


For single subject courses within Chalmers programmes the same eligibility requirements apply, as to the programme(s) that the course is part of.

Course specific prerequisites

Basic courses in physics and mathematics


The subject of reactor physics is to clarify the principle of operation of a nuclear reactor. The starting point is the interaction of neutrons with matter. The main task is to determine the spatial distribution and temporal evolution of neutrons of different energy. This is studied with the help of the diffusion and transport equations.


The aim of the course is to explain the mathematical methods that are necessary for reactor physics calculations. By treating some basis cases, it gives insight into the design, operation and characteristics of multiplying nuclear systems. The course also covers the construction principles of existing and future reactor types, including the so-called accelerator driven systems.


The content of the course is organized in order to give the students a solid basis of reactor physics (allowing them to either pursue a career in the nuclear industry or continue post-graduate studies in nuclear engineering):
- Review of nuclear physics.
- Interaction of neutrons with matter.
- Nuclear fission.
- Neutron chain-reacting systems.
- The diffusion of neutrons.
- Neutron moderation without absorption.
- Neutron moderation with absorption and fission.
- Low-energy neutrons.
- Fermi theory of the bare thermal reactor.
- Multiregion reactors - The group diffusion method.
- Heterogeneous reactors.
- Reactor kinetics.
- Changes in reactivity.
- Past and present power reactors.

Two special lectures are also organized:
- History of the Swedish nuclear energy program (by Prof. Em. Nils-Göran Sjöstrand).
- Overview of future energy systems (by Prof. Imre Pázsit).


Lectures 6 hrs/week. The language is English.

Calculational exercises: problem solving from a collection of exercises, 2 hrs/week.

3 laboratory experiments in Chalmers:
- Experimental simulation of a nuclear reactor (2 hrs): A reactor is simulated with an AmBe source. The spatial distribution of the neutron density is investigated using reflectors and absorbers, and some interesting reactor parameters calculated accordingly.
- Two-group diffusion theory (3 hrs): The spatial distribution of the neutron flux is investigated via a MatLab Graphical User Interface (GUI). The influence of some physical parameters on the reactor behaviour is studied, in order to give the students some further understanding of reactor design.
- Assembly/core calculations (4hrs): Use of the CASMO-4/SIMULATE-3 codes (codes used in the nuclear industry) to study some reactor physics phenomena (effects of control rods, boron, conditions for positive/negative MTC, xenon transient, advantage of fractional core reloading, etc.). Furthermore, the purpose of the lab is to give the students an overview of the methodology used for modelling a nuclear core.

Possibility of laboratory experiments at a research reactor abroad (still in discussion).

Written reports need to be made after each laboratory exercise.

One hometask needs to be solved and submitted in writing.


The course is based on the book "Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory", by John R. Lamarsh, published by the American Nuclear Society, LaGrange Park, Illinois, USA (2002).

A group order of the book is arranged a few weeks before the start of the course for the students registered to the course.

Equivalent English books:
- Knief: Nuclear Engineering: Theory and Technology of Nuclear Power.
- Glasstone and Sesonske: Nuclear Reactor Engineering.

A collection of calculational exercises is distributed at the problem solving sessions.


Oral examination. If several (at least three) students would prefer written examination, this is also possible to arrange. Irrespective of a possible written exam, all students who prefer the oral examination can choose this option.

Page manager Published: Thu 03 Nov 2022.