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Idaho National Laboratory

International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP)

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International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP)

Background Information

The Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (CSBEP) was initiated in October of 1992 by Dae Chung, Director of the Department of Energy Defense Programs Systems Engineering Division. The project was organized and managed through Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and involved nationally known criticality safety experts from Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 Plant, Hanford, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Rocky Flat Plant, Sandia National Laboratory, and Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. The U.S. map shows the participating laboratories in the United States.

The CSBEP became an international activity during 1994 when the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Russian Federation, and Hungary joined the effort. The project was mandated through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency's (NEA) Nuclear Science Committee (NSC) in 1995 and was renamed the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project (ICSBEP). Representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan, the Russian Federation, Hungary, Korea, Slovenia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Spain, Israel, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Poland, India, Canada, China, Sweden and Argentina are now participating on the project. The international participants are shown on the international map and organization chart. The ICSBEP reports to the OECD-NEA Working Party on Nuclear Criticality Safety. International coordination of the ICSBEP is managed through the OECD NEA. The ICSBEP Technical Review Group is chaired by John Bess of the INL.

The purpose of the ICSBEP is to:

  1. Identify a comprehensive set of critical benchmark data and, to the extent possible, verify the data by reviewing original and subsequently revised documentation, and by talking with the experimenters or individuals who are familiar with the experimenters or the experimental facility.
  2. Evaluate the data and quantify overall uncertainties through various types of sensitivity analysis.
  3. Compile the data into a standardized format.
  4. Perform calculations of each experiment with standard criticality safety codes.
  5. Formally document the work into a single source of verified benchmark critical data.

The work of the ICSBEP is documented as an International Handbook of Evaluated Criticality Safety Benchmark Experiments. Currently, the handbook spans nearly 67,000 pages and contains 558 evaluations representing 4798 critical, near-critical, subcritical, or K? configurations, 24 criticality alarm placement/shielding configurations with multiple dose points for each, and 200 configurations that have been categorized as fundamental physics measurements that are relevant to criticality safety applications. The handbook is intended for use by criticality safety analysts to perform necessary validations of their calculational techniques and is expected to be a valuable tool for decades to come.

Distribution of the ICSBEP Handbook is through the NEA Databank. The Handbook is available both on DVD and the Internet. You may request a DVD directly from the OECD NEA Website.

A "Database for the International Criticality Safety Benchmark Evaluation Project" (DICE) is included on the DVD version of the Handbook. DICE is a tool intended to make more efficient use of the Handbook and enables users to more easily identify information in the Handbook that meets their needs. Basically, DICE is a relational database with a user interface to query the database. DICE accomplishes two main objectives:

  1. Provide a summary description of each experimental configuration, where the main characteristics of the experiments are displayed in a uniform format.
  2. Allow users to search the handbook for experimental configurations that satisfy their unique input criteria (much more than a word search).

DICE can facilitate finding desired benchmarks in the Handbook; however it is subject to data entry errors and omissions. The International Handbook remains the primary source of criticality safety benchmark data.

For more information about DICE, see the user's manual.
Technical inquiries:
John D. Bess, INL, (208) 526-4375,
Tatiana Ivanova, NEA,