Department of Physics and Astronomy

Disputation: Enhancing the performance of the Digital Cherenkov Viewing Device: Detecting partial defects in irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies using Cherenkov light

  • Date:
  • Location: Room 2005, Ångströmlaboratoriet, Lägerhyddsvägen 1, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Branger, Erik
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Tillämpad kärnfysik
  • Contact person: Branger, Erik
  • Disputation

The Digital Cherenkov Viewing Device (DCVD) is an instrument used by authority safeguards inspectors to verify irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies in wet storage based on Cherenkov light emission. It is frequently used to verify that parts of an assembly have not been diverted, which is done by comparing the measured Cherenkov light intensity to a predicted one.

This thesis presents work done to further enhance the verification capability of the DCVD, and has focused on developing a second-generation prediction model (2GM), used to predict the Cherenkov light intensity of an assembly. The 2GM was developed to take into account the irradiation history, assembly type and beta decays, while still being usable to an inspector in-field. The 2GM also introduces a method to correct for the Cherenkov light intensity emanating from neighbouring assemblies. Additionally, a method to simulate DCVD images has been seamlessly incorporated into the 2GM.

The capabilities of the 2GM has been demonstrated on experimental data. In one verification campaign on fuel assemblies with short cooling time, the first-generation model showed a Root Mean Square error of 15.2% when comparing predictions and measurements. This was reduced by the 2GM to 7.8% and 8.1%, for predictions with and without near-neighbour corrections. A simplified version of the 2GM for single assemblies will be included in the next version of the official DCVD software, which will be available to inspectors shortly. The inclusion of the 2GM allows the DCVD to be used to verify short-cooled assemblies and assemblies with unusual irradiation history, with increased accuracy.

Experimental measurements show that there are situations when the intensity contribution due to neighbours is significant, and should be included in the intensity predictions. The image simulation method has been demonstrated to also allow the effect of structural differences in the assemblies to be considered in the predictions, allowing assemblies of different designs to be compared with enhanced accuracy.