Studies of Nuclear Fuel by Means of Nuclear Spectroscopic Methods

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The increasing demand for characterization of nuclear fuel, both from an operator and authority point of view, motivates the development of new experimental and, preferable, non-destructive methods. In this thesis, some methods based on nuclear spectroscopic techniques are presented.Various parameters of irradiated fuel are shown to be determined with high accuracy and confidence by utilizing gamma-ray scanning, tomography and passive neutron assay.Specifically, fuel parameters relevant for a secure storage of spent nuclear fuel in a long-term repository, such as e.g. burnup and decay heat, are shown to be determined with adequate accuracy. The techniques developed are expected to be implemented in the planned encapsulation facility in Sweden.Also, a device for tomographic measurements of the spatial distribution of thermal power in nuclear fuel assemblies has been built, tested and evaluated. The device utilizes single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) in order to reconstruct the gamma-ray source distribution within a fuel assembly. The device is expected to be an important tool for validating reactor core simulators regarding new fuel designs.For safeguards purposes, two experimental methods for verifying the integrity, i.e. the possible loss of fissile material from a nuclear fuel assembly, are presented. Verification of integrity is shown to be possible on an individual fuel rod level.