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Joint Tests at INL and CEA of a Transient Hot Wire Needle Probe for In-Pile Thermal Conductivity Measurement

Abstract : Thermal conductivity is a key property that must be known for proper design, testing, and deployment of new fuels and structural materials in nuclear reactors. Thermal conductivity is highly dependent on the physical structure, chemical composition, and the state of the material. Typically, thermal conductivity changes that occur during irradiation are currently measured out-of-pile using a "cook and look" approach. But repeatedly removing samples from a test reactor to make measurements is expensive, has the potential to disturb phenomena of interest, and only provides understanding of the sample's end state when each measurement is made. There are also limited thermo-physical property data available for advanced fuels; and such data are needed for simulation codes, the development of next generation reactors, and advanced fuels for existing nuclear plants. Being able to quickly characterize fuel thermal conductivity during irradiation can improve the fidelity of data, reduce costs of post-irradiation examinations, increase understanding of how fuels behave under irradiation, and confirm or improve existing thermal conductivity measurement techniques. This paper discusses efforts to develop and evaluate an innovative in-pile thermal conductivity sensor based on the transient hot wire thermal conductivity method (THWM), using a single needle probe (NP) containing a line heat source and thermocouple embedded in the fuel. The sensor that has been designed and manufactured by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) includes a unique combination of materials, geometry, and fabrication techniques that make the hot wire method suitable for in-pile applications. In particular, efforts were made to minimize the influence of the sensor and maximize fuel hot-wire heating. The probe has a thermocouple-like construction with high temperature resistant materials that remain ductile while resisting transmutation and materials interactions. THWM-NP prototypes were fabricated for both room temperature proof-of-concept evaluations and high temperature testing. Evaluations have been performed jointly by the INL and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), both in Idaho Falls (USA) and in Cadarache (France), in the framework of a collaborative program for instrumentation of Material Testing Reactors. Initial tests were conducted on samples with a large range of thermal conductivities and temperatures ranging from 20 °C to 600 °C. Particularly, tests were recently performed on a sample having thermal conductivity and dimensions similar to UO2 and MOX nuclear fuels, in order to validate the ability of this sensor to operate for in-pile characterization of Light Water Reactors fuels. The results of the tests already completed at INL and CEA indicate that the Transient Hot Wire Needle Probe offers an enhanced method for in-pile detection of thermal conductivity.
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  • HAL Id : cea-02500828, version 1

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J.-F. Villard, J.-L. Rempe, D.-L. Knudson, J. Liothin, C. Destouches, et al.. Joint Tests at INL and CEA of a Transient Hot Wire Needle Probe for In-Pile Thermal Conductivity Measurement. ANIMMA 2015 - 4th International Conference on Advancements in Nuclear Instrumentation, Measurement Methods and their Applications, Apr 2015, Lisbonne, Portugal. ⟨cea-02500828⟩

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