Nuclear Power and Nuclear Safety

A computerized method (UPPREC) for quantitative analysis of irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies with gamma emission tomography at the Halden reactor

Andersson, P. , Holcombe, S.
Annals of nuclear energy, Vol. 110 (Dec 2017), 88-97
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The Halden reactor project (HRP) has recently developed a gamma emission tomography instrument dedicated for measurements of irradiated nuclear fuel in collaboration with Westinghouse and Uppsala University. This instrument is now assembled and the first experimental measurements have been performed on fuel assemblies irradiated in the Halden reactor. The objective of the instrument is to map the distribution of radioisotopes of interest in the fuel, e.g. 137Cs or 140La/Ba, and for this purpose, a spectroscopic high-purity Germanium detector has been selected, which enables the identification and tomographic reconstruction of separate isotopes by their characteristic gamma rays. To gain from the analysis of the data from this new instrument, and in the future from other gamma emission tomography instruments for nuclear fuels, various reconstruction methods are available that vary in the accuracy and the amount of detail obtainable in the analysis. This paper presents the details of the working principles of a new code for gamma emission tomography, the UPPREC (UPPsala university REConstruction) code. It is a development in MATLAB™ code with the aim to produce detailed quantitative images of the investigated fuel. In this paper, the methods assembled for the analysis of data collected by this novel instrument are described and demonstrated and a benchmark is presented using single rod gamma scanning. It is shown that the UPPREC methodology improves the accuracy of the reconstructions by removing the errors introduced by the presence of highly attenuating fuel and structural material in the fuel assembly. With the introduction of UPPREC, detailed quantitative cross-sectional images of nuclide concentrations in nuclear fuel are now able to be obtained by nondestructive means. This has potential applications in both nuclear fuel diagnostics and in safeguards.
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