Research Papers

Application of Prompt Self-Powered Neutron Detectors to the Lead-Cooled Fast Reactor Demonstrator ALFRED: Validation of the Monte Carlo Model for Selected SPNDs

[+] Author and Article Information
Luigi Lepore

Department of Basic and
Applied Sciences for Engineering,
Sapienza University of Rome,
Via Antonio Scarpa, 14,
Rome 00161, Italy
e-mail: luigi.lepore@uniroma1.it

Romolo Remetti

Department of Basic and
Applied Sciences for Engineering,
Sapienza University of Rome,
Via Antonio Scarpa, 14,
Rome 00161, Italy
e-mail: romolo.remetti@uniroma1.it

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received March 23, 2017; final manuscript received June 30, 2017; published online July 31, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Michal Kostal.

ASME J of Nuclear Rad Sci 3(4), 041018 (Jul 31, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: NERS-17-1017; doi: 10.1115/1.4037262 History: Received March 23, 2017; Revised June 30, 2017

The advanced lead fast reactor European demonstrator (ALFRED) is a European research initiative into the framework of the Generation IV International Forum facilities. ALFRED is a scaled down reactor compared to the industrial prototype European lead fast reactor proposed in lead-cooled European advanced demonstration reactor. It has a relatively low power (125 MWe) with a compact design to reduce the cost but maintaining its representativeness and it is cooled by pure lead. One of the open issues is linked to the neutron flux in-core monitoring system because of the harshness of the environment the detectors should be installed in, due to high temperatures, and the neutron-gamma radiation field levels. Monte Carlo simulation is a possible way of facing the problem, reproducing into a virtual world the reactor core, the surrounding environment and radiation interactions. In previous works, neutron spectra and gamma doses at possible detectors' locations in ALFRED were retrieved, with consideration on the applicability of each suitable device currently available. Fission chambers (FCs) were found to be exploited at reactor start-up and intermediate power range. Prompt self-powered neutron detectors (SPNDs) seemed to be the best solution to monitor the reactor full power, becoming the main research target: their effective applicability on field has to be demonstrated. SPND applications do not include reactor control purposes usually. Moreover, their irradiation experience involved thermal and epithermal neutron spectra monitoring, mainly. The lack of data when SPNDs sense fast neutron fluxes in terms of prompt-response pushed the authors to deepen the study in such direction. The work herein shows the mathematical approach based on Monte Carlo simulation of SPNDs by the Monte Carlo N-particle eXtended code (MCNPX), so as to study the capability of the code in reproducing real devices' signals while experimented on field. Such a verification turned out to be the preliminary stage for studying new concepts for SPNDs, in terms of sensitive materials and geometries, envisaging the possibility for designing, prototyping, and testing new devices in suitable fast neutron-flux facilities.

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Fig. 1

SPND model by Thermocoax™. Image courtesy of Thermocoax™ [17].

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Fig. 2

Typical Thermocoax™ SPND model reconstructed into MCNPX. Above, cross sections are presented. At the bottom, a 3D view.

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Fig. 3

TAPIRO fast reactor at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) Casaccia Reseach Centre

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Fig. 4

Some sketches from TAPIRO fast reactor MCNPX model utilized for reproducing the irradiation experience of SPND in Ref. [10]. On the left: 3D-view and vertical section; on the right: the reactor 3D-view of the core with the diametral channel schematized and detector placed for test, and reactor cross section at the diametral channel height.

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Fig. 5

Innovative concepts for SPNDs. Top, left: as assembly arrangement including a central channel for the introduction of samples for absolute calibration. Top: middle, right: new arrangements for sensitive material (in red) different from the simple coaxial cylinder geometry. Bottom: gas conduits and path for insertion and extraction of samples for absolute measurement of neutron flux for device calibration.



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