Abstract

Vibration measurements of the fuel assembly of a nuclear reactor are a very useful tool to determine the health and lifetime of the reactor core. The importance of these measurements is exacerbated in the new generation of heavy liquid metal reactors, where the fuel assembly is exposed to a corrosive molten metal coolant at 300 $^\circ$ C and where the space between the individual fuel pins is limited to a few millimeters. In this paper, we consider fibre Bragg gratings as potential candidates for carrying out fuel pin vibration measurements in such an environment. We describe a dedicated method to integrate fibre Bragg gratings in a fuel pin, and we subject this pin to conditions close to those encountered in a real heavy liquid metal reactor. More specifically, we report on the performance of draw tower gratings used as a vibration sensor when the fuel pins are immersed in heavy liquid metal at 300 $^\circ$ C for up to 700 h. The performance evaluation is based on monitoring the signal-to-noise ratio of the grating's spectral response as a function of time. We show that accurate detection of the Bragg peak becomes very challenging after 400 h of exposure. Additionally, we succeed to extend the useful lifetime with a factor of two by using an appropriate integration of the fiber in the fuel pin and by using an alternate peak detection algorithm.

© 2014 IEEE

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