The Digital Cherenkov Viewing Device (DCVD) is a tool used by nuclear safeguards inspectors to verify irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies in wet storage based on the Cherenkov light produced by the assembly. Verification that no rods have been substituted in the fuel, so-called partial-defect verification, is made by comparing the intensity measured with a DCVD with a predicted intensity, based on operator fuel declaration.
The prediction model currently used by inspectors is based on simulations of Cherenkov light production in a BWR 8x8 geometry. This work investigates prediction models based on simulated Cherenkov light production in a BWR 8x8 and a PWR 17x17 assembly, as well as a simplified model based on a single rod in water. Cherenkov light caused by both fission product gamma and beta decays were considered.
The simulations reveal that there are systematic differences between the models, most noticeably with respect to the fuel assembly cooling time. Consequently, a prediction model that is based on another fuel assembly configuration than the fuel type being measured, will result in systematic over or underestimation of short-cooled fuel as opposed to long-cooled fuel. While a simplified model may be accurate enough for fuel assemblies with fairly homogeneous cooling times, the prediction models may differ by up to 18 % for more heterogeneous fuel. Accordingly, these investigations indicate that the currently used model may need to be exchanged with a set of more detailed, fuel-type specific models, in order minimize the model dependant systematic deviations.