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Innovations for In-Pile Measurements in the Framework of the CEA-SCK•CEN Joint Instrumentation Laboratory

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2 Author(s)
Villard, J.-F. ; Nucl. Energy Directorate/Reactors Studies Dept., CEA, St. Paul-lez-Durance, France ; Schyns, M.

Optimizing the life cycle of nuclear systems under safety constraints requires high-performance experimental programs to reduce uncertainties on margins and limits. In addition to improvement in modeling and simulation, innovation in instrumentation is crucial for analytical and integral experiments conducted in research reactors. The quality of nuclear research programs relies obviously on an excellent knowledge of their experimental environment which constantly calls for better online determination of neutron and gamma flux. But the combination of continuously increasing scientific requirements and new experimental domains -brought for example by Generation IV programsnecessitates also major innovations for in-pile measurements of temperature, dimensions, pressure or chemical analysis in innovative mediums. At the same time, the recent arising of a European platform around the building of the Jules Horowitz Reactor offers new opportunities for research institutes and organizations to pool their resources in order to face these technical challenges. In this situation, CEA (French Nuclear Energy Commission) and SCK'CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) have combined their efforts and now share common developments through a Joint Instrumentation Laboratory. Significant progresses have thus been obtained recently in the field of in-pile measurements, on one hand by improvement of existing measurement methods, and on the other hand by introduction in research reactors of original measurement techniques. This paper highlights the state-of-the-art and the main requirements regarding in-pile measurements, particularly for the needs of current and future irradiation programs performed in material testing reactors. Some of the main on-going developments performed in the framework of the Joint Instrumentation Laboratory are also described, such as: - a unique fast neutron flux measurement system using fission chambers with 242Pu deposit and a specific online data- - processing, - an optical system designed to perform in-pile dimensional measurements of material samples under irradiation, - an acoustical instrumentation allowing the online characterization of fission gas release in Pressurized Water Reactor fuel rods. For each example, the obtained results, expected impacts and development status are detailed.

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Nuclear Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:57 ,  Issue: 6 )