Development of a Neutron Flux Monitoring System for Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Safety and reliability are one of the key objectives for future Generation IV nuclear energy systems. The neutron flux monitoring system forms an integral part of the safety design of a nuclear reactor and must be able to detect any irregularities during all states of reactor operation. The work in this thesis mainly concerns the detection of in-core perturbations arising from unwanted movements of control rods with in-vessel neutron detectors in a sodium-cooled fast reactor. Feasibility study of self-powered neutron detectors (SPNDs) with platinum emitters as in-core power profile monitors for SFRs at full power is performed. The study shows that an SPND with a platinum emitter generates a prompt current signal induced by neutrons and gammas of the order of 600 nA/m, which is large enough to be measurable. Therefore, it is possible for the SPND to follow local power fluctuations at full power operation. Ex-core and in-core detector locations are investigated with two types of detectors, fission chambers and self-powered neutron detectors (SPNDs) respectively, to study the possibility of detection of the spatial changes in the power profile during two different transient conditions, i.e. inadvertent withdrawal of control rods (IRW) and one stuck rod during reactor shutdown (OSR). It is shown that it is possible to detect the two simulated transients with this set of ex-core and in-core detectors before any melting of the fuel takes place. The detector signal can tolerate a noise level up to 5% during an IRW and up to 1% during an OSR.