CINCH_approved_100x91.jpgThe purpose of this exercise is to study how transuranium nuclear waste is generated in a nuclear reactor. For this purpose a computer program will be written that simulates the nuclear reactions and disintegrations inside a nuclear-reactor core loaded with a specific fuel mixture. To keep the project manageable and relatively small we will introduce simplifications that make it possible to write the program and perform the simulations within a limited amount of time (about one day). Nevertheless the simulation will provide important understanding and insight into the dynamics of a running nuclear reactor. The main simplification used is that only thermal neutrons are present in our simulated reactor.

Follow this link for a general description of the concept of Computing in Science Education (CSE) exercises.

Learning Outcome

Performing this exercise should teach the student:


Many aspects of constructing and operating a nuclear reactor is not considered in this exercise. In particular, the importance of considering the effect neutron energy has on fission and n-capture cross-section is ignored. Furthermore, the effect of in-growth of neutron-absorbing nuclei ("poisons") is ignored. This exercise is not intended for - and will not convincingly model - the neutron inventory of a nuclear reactor. These limitations should be made clear for the students. This said, the simulation is quite useful in explaining and illustrating all the problems associated with nuclear waste.

Provided Material

Below you will find teaching material intended to be handed out to the students and guides for teachers on how to set up and execute the exercise. The student material can either be used as is or incorporated into your own learning material (e.g. a book of exercises or an student management platform). Feel free to use this material as you would like, provided it is for none-commercial purposes. If you develop the material further, we would much appreciate it if you could share the additional material here on NucWik. Likewise would we be very interested in your experience from using this exercise and material - please share!

Guides and Material for Students

Guides and Material for Teachers

Development History and Contact Person

This exercise was conceived by Jon Petter Omtvedt (UiO) as part of the CINCH project. The initial development was made by Hans V. Lerum (UiO) and Omtvedt in 2014/2015. Pilot programs were written by Johannes Ø. Matsdal and Håkon Becstrøm during the summer of 2015, they also added many refinements and added ideas.

If you have comments, suggestions, examples of programs (in any language) or anything else relevant, please write in the comment page (use the NucWik page commenting tool, but you must be a registered user) or send your feed-back to The teaching material for this particular CSE exercise is managed and updated by: Jon Petter Omtvedt. Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss this exercise or need help implementing it.