We describe the state of the art of the research towards ultrasonic measurement methods for use in lead-bismuth cooled liquid metal reactors. Our current research activities are highly focused on specific tasks in the MYRRHA system, which is a fast spectrum research reactor cooled with the eutectic mixture of lead and bismuth (LBE) and is conceived as an accelerator driven system capable of operating in both sub-critical and critical mode. As liquid metal is opaque to light, normal visual feedback during fuel manipulations in the reactor vessel is not available and must therefore be replaced by a system that is not hindered by the opacity of the coolant. In this respect ultrasonic measurement techniques have been proposed and even developed in the past for operation in sodium cooled reactors. To our knowledge, no such systems have ever been deployed in lead based reactors and we are the first to have a research program in this direction as will be detailed in this paper. We give an overview of the acoustic properties of LBE and compare them with the properties of sodium and water to theoretically show the feasibility of ultrasonic systems operating in LBE. In the second part of the paper we discuss the results of the validation experiments in water and LBE. A typical scene is ultrasonically probed by a mechanical scanning system while the signals are processed to render a 3D visualization on a computer screen. It will become clear that mechanical scanning is capable of producing acceptable images but that it is a time consuming process that is not fit to solve the initial task to provide feedback during manipulations in the reactor vessel. That is why we propose to use several dedicated ultrasonic systems each adapted to a specific task and capable to provide real-time feedback of the ongoing manipulations, as is detailed in the third and final part of the paper.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering