A novel design approach for a neutron measurement station for burnt fuel
The design and characterization of a passive neutron measurement station for highly burnt fuel has been undertaken at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). The measurement station aims at the determination of the total neutron emission rate of full-length light water reactor (LWR) fuel rods, as also the corresponding axial distributions. It is intended that the measurement station be introduced into the hot cells available at PSI to allow measuring the neutron emission of spent fuel rods provided by the Swiss nuclear power plants. In addition, the neutron emission of a large set of burnt fuel samples that have been previously characterized by post-irradiation examination (PIE) will be measured, in order to relate neutron emission to the burnup and isotopic composition of different fuel types. The design of the measurement station is presented in this article. A post-processing algorithm is introduced to improve the spatial resolution of the "measured" axial profile. In order to quantify the accuracy of the reconstructed neutron source distribution, a figure-of-merit (FOM) is defined and adapted to the detection procedure. With the optimized measurement station and procedure, it is estimated that the neutron emission distribution of a highly burnt, full-length fuel rod would be measurable with acceptable accuracy in about 20 min. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.