Nuclear fuel assemblies profiled with scanner

Engineers at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI; Palo Alto, CA, USA) have teamed up with counterparts at Newton Research Labs (Renton, WA, USA) to develop an underwater laser scanning tool to precisely measure the profile of used nuclear fuel assemblies.

Nuclear fuel assemblies profiled with scanner
Nuclear fuel assemblies profiled with scanner

Engineers at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI; Palo Alto, CA, USA) have teamed up with counterparts at Newton Research Labs (Renton, WA, USA) to develop an underwater laser scanning tool to precisely measure the profile of used nuclear fuel assemblies.

A successful demonstration of the technology has been recently completed and a second phase of development and deployment is expected to be announced in the near future.

The tool is intended to produce highly-detailed dimensional measurements of Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) fuel bundles. After the system is validated, it will be extended to also enable the measurement of Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) fuel assemblies.

The misalignment (or distortion) of used fuel bundles, due to bowing, bulging, twisting or lengthening, is generally quite small and difficult to measure. For instance, a BWR fuel bundle may have a bow of less than a half inch along its 13-foot length.

Measurement of fuel bundles can be achieved by using traditional systems based on ultrasonic testing (UT) or Linear Variable Differential Transformers (LVDTs), but these can be time-consuming. The new scanning tool is targeted toward reducing these fuel assembly measurement times, while delivering comparable resolution, accuracy, and precision.

The new non-contact fuel assembly scanning tool will be based upon underwater laser scanning technology previously developed by Newton Research Labs specifically for the nuclear power industry.

In addition to making measurements and taking video, the tool will enable engineers to store and later manipulate 3-D CAD and image data to assist in fuel life cycle profiling.

-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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