A Novel gamma emission tomography instrument for enhanced fuel characterization capabilities within the OECD Halden Reactor Project

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Abstract

Gamma emission tomography is a method based on gamma-ray spectroscopy and tomographic reconstruction techniques, which can be used for rod-wise characterization of nuclear fuel assemblies without dismantling the fuel. By performing a large number of measurements of the gamma-ray flux intensity around a fuel assembly using a well-collimated gamma-ray detector, the internal source distribution in the assembly may be reconstructed using tomographic algorithms. If a spectroscopic detection system is used, different gamma-ray emitting isotopes can be selected for analysis, enabling nondestructive fuel characterization with respect to a variety of fuel parameters. In this paper, we describe a novel gamma emission tomography instrument, which has been designed, constructed and tested at the Halden Boiling Water Reactor (HBWR). The device will be used to characterize fuel assemblies irradiated in the HBWR as part of ongoing nuclear fuel research conducted within the OECD Halden Reactor Project (HRP). As compared to single-rod gamma scanning, where the fuel is dismantled and the gamma radiation from each rod is measured separately, handling time associated with characterizing the fuel can be significantly reduced when using the gamma emission tomography device. Furthermore, because gamma emission tomography enables rod-wise fuel characterization without dismantling, even instrumented experimental fuel assemblies may be characterized repeatedly throughout the fuel's lifetime, with limited risk of damaging the fuel or its instrumentation. Accordingly, the capabilities of fuel characterization within the OECD HRP are expected to be strongly enhanced by the deployment of this device. Here, the gamma-tomographic method and the experimental setup are demonstrated through experimental measurements of the fuel stack and gas plenum regions of a nine-rod HBWR fuel assembly configuration, where four rods had a burnup of approximately 26 MWd/kgUO2 and five rods had a burnup of approximately 50 MWd/kgUO2. Tomographic images are presented, which show the applicability for assessment of fission gas contents in the gas plena and of fission products in the fuel stack. Furthermore, neutron activation products are analyzed, which give additional information on construction material properties.

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Holcombe, S., Jacobsson Svärd, S., & Hallstadius, L. (2015). A Novel gamma emission tomography instrument for enhanced fuel characterization capabilities within the OECD Halden Reactor Project. Annals of Nuclear Energy, 85, 837–845. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anucene.2015.06.043

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