Post Examination of a High Flux Reactor Single Element with Ultra-Sounds

Abstract : The fuel elements of High Performance and Research Reactors are usually made of plates instead of rods. During irradiation, the fuel plates undergo limited swelling and an oxide layer appears on the outer surface of the cladding. However, measuring the inter-plate distance of such fuel elements isn't trivial mainly because of the requested resolution in constraint geometry. Indeed while the typical dimensions of the water channel between plates is close to two millimeter, a resolution of one micron is needed to characterize any fuel plate swelling. In order to perform such measurements, we designed a robust device based upon high frequency ultrasonic probes and adapted to the high radiation environment. It was thinned until 1 mm in order to be inserted into the 1.8 mm width water channel. To achieve the expected resolution, the system is excited with frequencies up to 120 MHz. Thanks to a highly performing signal processing; distance measurement is carried out through the ultrasonic waves' time of flight. One of the crucial points is then the evaluation of the local water temperature inside the water channel. To obtain a precise estimation of this parameter, the ultrasonic sensor is used as a thermometer thanks to the analysis of the spectral components of the acoustic signal propagating inside the sensor multilayered structure. The feasibility of temperature and distance measurement has already been proved with success on a full size irradiated fuel element of the RHF. Some experimental constraints were identified to improve the accuracy of the measurement system in future works.
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Ghita Zaz. Post Examination of a High Flux Reactor Single Element with Ultra-Sounds. Electronics. Université Montpellier, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015MONTS252⟩. ⟨tel-02160964⟩

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