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Tomography for Fuel Elements


Development of the Tomographic Methods of Testing of the Fuel and its Components Distribution in Fuel Elements before and after Irradiation

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-MEA/Measuring Instruments/Instrumentation
  • FIR-MAT/Materials/Fission Reactors
  • INF-SIG/Sensors and Signal Processing/Information and Communications

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
MIFI, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • VNIITFA, Russia, Moscow\nNIIAR (Atomic Reactors), Russia, Ulianovsk reg., Dimitrovgrad


  • Fraunhofer Institute Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren, Germany, Saarbrücken\nBAM, Germany, Berlin\nForschungszentrum Karlsruhe Technik und Umwelt / Institute für Materialforschung, Germany, Karlsruhe

Project summary

The objective of the project is to develop a method of obtaining quantitative information on distribution of fissile materials in nuclear fuel and its components for technological and material scientific research of articles including nuclear fuel basing on radionuclide computer tomography:

The actuality of this research is first of all determined by necessity of obtaining quantitative information on the character of fuel distribution in fuel elements during their production using the corresponding technologies. The results obtained must be not only quantitative, but repeatable. Development of techniques of nuclear fuel and its components distribution diagnostics is of particular importance for maintenance of lasting operation of nuclear power instrumentation elements, safety and ecological purity at all stages of nuclear fuel cycle.

First of all, the method of fuel elements materials investigation must give quantitative information on the distribution of fuel and its components both before and after irradiation and then it must be sensitive to changes of structure and properties of the fuel element material.

Information which satisfies to these requirements may be obtained using the method foreseeing use of techniques of radionuclide transmission (using an external source) and emission (the sample under investigation is a source itself) tomography. Obtaining of quantitative information on probable production defects in fuel materials, on heterogeneity of distribution of fissile and absorbing nuclides and their isotopic content is of principle importance for development of production of the high quality fuel and absorbing elements. Information on the behavior of the fuel element material during the campaign, particularly detection of changes of the phase state and isotope content of the fuel and absorbing elements materials after different time from the beginning of the campaign may be obtained using the tomography techniques being developed. As the method is sensitive to both increase and reduction of the sources density it is possible to investigate voids in the material: presence of a void means absence of a source in the region where it is located.

The main advantages of the radionuclide tomography method are the following:use of radionuclide sources radiation with high penetration ability provides possibility of investigation of massive samples; use of two tomographic techniques gives the possibility to investigate fuel elements both before and after irradiation in the reactor; the tomographic techniques proposed let to determine space distribution of the radionuclide sources, i.e. gamma-radiators in the fuel element.

There is also a possibility to determine distribution of radionuclide sources in the containers with radioactive waste for example with worked up fuel elements with the help of emission tomography technique. Solving this problem is of significant importance at testing of the homogeneity of the radioactive waste distribution in containers and thus the safeguard of burial, storage and transporting of the worked up fuel elements.

Some abroad analogues of this work are known. The CEA (Atomic Energy Commission) in France uses tomography techniques for investigations of fuel distribution and defectoscopy in rod fuel elements, in Great Britain Harwell and Surrey University use them for obtaining information on spherical fuel elements. Wide range investigations of distribution of fuel materials and products of fission carried out by a number of institutions of the USA and Canada are also well known. It should be marked that there is no examples of use of these complex of techniques proposed , information on quantitative characteristics of the fuel and its components, especially on weight content of the fuel, is absent.

Moreover the cheapest of the instrumentation used in these investigations – 201 CITA made in the SMS is as a minimum three times more expensive than the instrumentation being developed.

Collectives from MEPhI, VNIITFA and RIAR are proposed to be engaged in this project. MEPhI has a great experience of creation of the nuclear radiation detection instrumentation and in creation of software. Since 1975 the scientific collective of VNIITFA under the guidance of N.R. Kuzelev has begun activities in radionuclide computer tomography (RCT) for industrial problems solution, these activities having been one of the first in the world practice. Radionuclide radiation is used in this case, this radiation having linear or single energy spectrum. The advantage of use of such sources is the fact that the penetration ability of gamma- rays is higher than that of the X- rays. Nowadays experimental mock-up samples of transmission and emission tomographs have been created. RIAR laboratories are proposed to be used for carrying out testing of samples before and after irradiation.

Solving of the following problems is planned for achieving the objective :

· to develop a conception of designing of the radionuclide tomographs for realization of the objective;

· to carry out marketing investigations of the tomographs use market during work at the conceptionand to make up the business-plan of the commercial proposal on production of the experimental party of the industrial tomographs;

· to prepare design documentation for production of two mock up samples of transmission and emission computerized tomographs basing on the developed conception;

· to produce experimental samples of transmission and emission tomographs;

· to create the database for most typical samples of testing and parameters of their radiation under different conditions;

· to make up design documentation for industrial production of the tomographs;

· to develop the technology of obtaining quantitative information on distribution of the fissile materials in the fuel and its components.


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