Development of a Methodology for Detecting Coolant Void in Lead-cooled Fast Reactors by Means of Neutron Measurements

Detta är en avhandling från Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Sammanfattning: In a lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR), small bubbles (in the order of one mm or less) may enter the coolant from a leaking steam generator. If such a leakage is undetected the small bubbles may eventually coalesce into a larger bubble in local stagnation zones under the active core. If such a bubble or void releases and passes through the core, it could drive the reactor into prompt criticality. It is therefore desirable to be able to detect the initial stages of such void formation.In this thesis, a methodology to detect such leaks is presented together with a study on void-induced reactivity effects in various LFR's. The methodology developed is based on information from two fission chambers positioned radially outside the core. The fissile content of the fission chambers consist either of 235U or 242Pu making them sensitive to different parts of the neutron spectrum. It is shown that the information from the fission chambers can be used to obtain an early indication of the presence of a small leak within typically a month. Furthermore, it is shown that for all but the smallest LFR’s, prompt criticality due to voids passing the core cannot be excluded.One conclusion is that the methodology may form an attractive complement to the general monitoring system of future LFR’s but, as is noted, it has potential for further developments.