EPJ Web Conf.
Volume 170, 2018ANIMMA 2017
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Published online||10 January 2018|
Measurement station for interim inspections of Lightbridge metallic fuel rods at the Halden Boiling Water Reactor
Institute for Energy Technology, P.O. Box 173, NO-1751 Halden, Norway
Lightbridge Corporation, 11710 Plaza America Dr., Ste. 2000, Reston, VA 20190 USA
Published online: 10 January 2018
Lightbridge Corporation has developed a new Uranium-Zirconium based metallic fuel. The fuel rods aremanufactured via a co-extrusion process, and are characterized by their multi-lobed (cruciform-shaped) cross section. The fuel rods are also helically-twisted in the axial direction. Two experimental fuel assemblies, each containing four Lightbridge fuel rods, are scheduled to be irradiated in the Halden Boiling Water Reactor (HBWR) starting in 2018. In addition to on-line monitoring of fuel rod elongation and critical assembly conditions (e.g. power, flow rates, coolant temperatures, etc.) during the irradiation, several key parameters of the fuel will be measured out-of-core during interim inspections. An inspection measurement station for use in the irradiated fuel handling compartment at the HBWR has therefore been developed for this purpose. The multi-lobed cladding cross section combined with the spiral shape of the Lightbridge metallic fuel rods requires a high-precision guiding system to ensure good position repeatability combined with low-friction guiding. The measurement station is equipped with a combination of instruments and equipment supplied from third-party vendors and instruments and equipment developed at Institute for Energy Technology (IFE). Two sets of floating linear voltage differential transformer (LVDT) pairs are used to measure swelling and diameter changes between the lobes and the valleys over the length of the fuel rods. Eddy current probes are used to measure the thickness of oxide layers in the valleys and on the lobe tips and also to detect possible surface cracks/pores. The measurement station also accommodates gamma scans. Additionally, an eddy-current probe has been developed at IFE specifically to detect potential gaps or discontinuities in the bonding layer between the metallic fuel and the Zirconium alloy cladding. Potential gaps in the bonding layer will be hidden behind a 0.5-1.0 mm thick cladding wall. It has therefore been necessary to perform a careful design study of the probe geometry. For this, finite element analysis (FEA) has been performed in combination with practical validation tests on representative fuel dummies with machined flaws to find the probe geometry that best detects a hidden flaw. Tests performed thus far show that gaps down to 25 μm thickness can be detected with good repeatability and good discrimination from lift-off signals.
Key words: Lightbridge / metallic fuel / NDT / interim inspection / eddy-current probe
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2018
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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