Dr. John Mattingly

Nuclear Engineering

Phone: 919-515-0224
Instructor Website

Dr. John Zino

Nuclear Engineering

Phone: 910-398-2832

Dr. Pascal Rouxelin

Nuclear Engineering


NE 591-603 Nuclear Criticality Safety

3 Credit Hours

This course will cover fundamental and advanced topics of nuclear criticality safety and will include a review of basic reactor theory and reactor physics as well as applied methods of criticality safety practice for the handling, storage, and processing of fissile and fissionable materials outside of reactors. The course will also cover a review of criticality accidents, fundamental concepts of establishing subcritical safety limits, the Double Contingency Principle, historical and contemporary methods for performing criticality safety analyses, and evaluations and criticality code and cross section data benchmarking and uncertainty analysis.


  • NE301 or NE520
  • Understanding of fundamental concepts of reactor theory and reactor physics

Course Objectives

Upon satisfactory completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the fundamental concept of nuclear criticality safety
  • Understand nuclear criticality safety control parameters
  • Understand computational methods used in criticality safety

Course Topics

Course topics include:]

  • Review of reactor theory and reactor physics
  • Fundamentals of nuclear criticality safety indices, correlations, controls
  •  Review of critical and subcritical experimental methods
  •  Review of nuclear criticality safety practices
  •  Single and multiple-parameter control limits
  •  The Double Contingency principle
  •  Criticality safety standards and regulations
  •  Computational methods used in criticality safety

Course Requirements

This course will involve theory, applications, and practice exercises for nuclear criticality safety.


Homework problems – 15%
MCNP computational problems – 25%
Benchmarking & Uncertainty Analysis – 20%
Nuclear Criticality Safety Evaluation –  30%


Knief, Ronald A., Nuclear Criticality Safety, Theory and Practice, 2 nd edition, American Nuclear Society, (2000)

ISBN-0: 0-89448-028-6

Computer and Software Requirements

Please review the minimum computer specifications that NC State University and Engineering Online recommend.

The MCNP6.2 computer code will be used to perform all criticality safety analyses. A copy of the source and executable can be downloaded (free of charge for students) at the RSICC website in the link provided below:

The RDFMG will be available for computational projects.


Updated: 10/31/2022