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Research Papers

On Capabilities and Limitations of Current Fast Neutron Flux Monitoring Instrumentation for the Demo LFR ALFRED

[+] Author and Article Information
Luigi Lepore

SAPIENZA, University of Rome,
SBAI Department, Via Antonio Scarpa, 14-00161 Rome, Italy
e-mail: luigi.lepore@uniroma1.it

Romolo Remetti

SAPIENZA, University of Rome,
SBAI Department, Via Antonio Scarpa, 14-00161 Rome, Italy
e-mail: romolo.remetti@uniroma1.it

Mauro Cappelli

ENEA FSN-FUSPHY-SCM, Frascati Research Center,
Via Enrico Fermi, 45-00044 Frascati (Rome), Italy
e-mail: mauro.cappelli@enea.it

Manuscript received October 7, 2015; final manuscript received August 30, 2016; published online October 12, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Leon Cizelj.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 2(4), 041002 (Oct 12, 2016) (8 pages) Paper No: NERS-15-1205; doi: 10.1115/1.4033697 History: Received October 07, 2015; Accepted August 30, 2016

Among GEN IV projects for future nuclear power plants, lead-cooled fast reactors (LFRs) seem to be a very interesting solution due to their benefits in terms of fuel cycle, coolant safety, and waste management. The novelty of this matter causes some open issues about coolant chemical aspects, structural aspects, monitoring instrumentation, etc. Particularly, hard neutron flux spectra would make traditional neutron instrumentation unfit to all reactor conditions, i.e., source, intermediate, and power range. Identification of new models of nuclear instrumentation specialized for LFR neutron flux monitoring asks for an accurate evaluation of the environment the sensor will work in. In this study, thermal hydraulics and chemical conditions for the LFR core environment will be assumed, as the neutron flux will be studied extensively by the Monte Carlo transport code MCNPX (Monte Carlo N-Particles X-version). The core coolant’s high temperature drastically reduces the candidate instrumentation because only some kinds of fission chambers and self-powered neutron detectors can be operated in such an environment. This work aims at evaluating the capabilities of the available instrumentation (usually designed and tailored for sodium-cooled fast reactors) when exposed to the neutron spectrum derived from the Advanced Lead Fast Reactor European Demonstrator, a pool-type LFR project to demonstrate the feasibility of this technology into the European framework. This paper shows that such a class of instrumentation does follow the power evolution, but is not completely suitable to detect the whole range of reactor power, due to excessive burnup, damages, or gamma interferences. Some improvements are possible to increase the signal-to-noise ratio by optimizing each instrument in the range of reactor power, so to get the best solution. The design of some new detectors is proposed here together with a possible approach for prototyping and testing them by a fast reactor.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

ALFRED vertical cross-section [9]

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Fig. 2

Core plane and points investigated for calculating detectors’ fast sensitivities and responses in previous works (left). New detector’s positioning for calculation in this work (right)

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Fig. 3

Neutron flux magnitude trend in positions suitable for installing neutron detectors

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Fig. 4

Neutron flux spectra comparison of N1–N4 “nose plane” points. The averaged energy of the spectrum varies significantly due to scattering and absorber materials

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Fig. 5

Photonis CFUE32 FC current mode sensitivity in the positions studied in demonstrator ALFRED (uncertainty <1%)

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Fig. 6

KWD 5503-Co-210 SPND current mode sensitivity in the positions studied in demonstrator ALFRED (uncertainty <1%)

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Fig. 7

Photonis CFUE32 FC current mode response in the positions studied in demonstrator ALFRED (uncertainty <5%)

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Fig. 8

KWD 5503-Co-210 SPND current mode response in the positions studied in demonstrator ALFRED (uncertainty <5%)

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