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Module 105 -Criticality Safety
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Radiological Safety Trainign for Uranium Facilities
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Reflectors - doe-hdbk-1113-98_reaffirm_2005_040097


DOE-HDBK-1113-98
Module 105 Criticality Safety
Lesson Plan
Instructor's Notes
When neutrons from one fission cause fission in another
atom, it is called a chain reaction. If the chain reaction is
self-sustaining, we call this criticality. Criticality is a self-
sustaining nuclear chain reaction. This is an obvious
radiation hazard because of the amount of energy given
off as gamma radiation and other forms.
C.
Factors Affecting Criticality
Criticality depends on several factors, including the
enrichment of the material, the shape of the material, and
surrounding materials, that may help or hinder fission.
Several factors which affect the occurrence and
magnitude of a criticality:
1. Quantity of Fissile Material
When dealing with criticality, a common question is
"How much material can I work with and still be
safe?" There is some amount of the fissile material
needed to have a criticality. This amount is called the
"critical mass."
For example: a solid
sphere,
such as a billiard ball, has a
To avoid a criticality event, the fissile material must
not be placed in a shape, or geometry, that is favorable much lower surface-to-
volume ratio than a thin
to criticality. In general, the lower the surface-to-
rectangular shape, such as
volume ratio is, the greater the opportunity for
a piece of paper.
criticality.
60


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