Neutron tomography has previously been performed using large, stationary neutron sources such as reactors and spallation sources for applications where the object under study can be transported to the source. This paper accounts for the challenges met when applying neutron tomography using a portable accelerator driven neutron generator, which is required when studying non-transportable objects. In general, portable sources offer significantly lower neutron yields than stationary sources, implying the need for either longer measurement times or highly efficient measurement and/or analysis procedures.
The particular application investigated here is the mapping of steam distributions in water (void distribution), which is of high importance for the performance of nuclear fuel assemblies in boiling water reactors (BWR). The void distribution cannot be measured directly in a reactor core, so instead various electrically-heated thermal-hydraulic test loops are used. In these loops, void correlations can be determined in full-size fuel-assembly models, such as FRIGG in Sweden and DESIRE in Holland, but measurements are also performed in smaller, less complicated geometries. Previously, gamma tomography has been used to measure the void distribution in the FRIGG loop. However, improved capabilities to map the void distribution can be expected using neutrons because of their higher sensitivity to water relative to metal structures, as compared to gamma rays. At the same time, neutrons as probe also give rise to some challenges, such as high background from scattering.
This paper investigates the possibility to use neutron tomography at axially symmetric objects such as the HWAT test loop in Sweden, where an annular two-phase flow of water/void is confined and heated by a steel cylinder. Monte Carlo simulations of the HWAT geometry and a suggested measurement setup have been carried out, using the particle transport code MCNPX. A reconstruction technique which exploits the symmetries in the test loop has been developed, making it possible to reconstruct the internal void distribution from one single projection. A reconstruction is presented, which is based on simulated data corresponding to a 13-min measurement using a DT source emitting 2∙109 neutrons/s. The reconstruction offers a radial view of the local void fraction in 10 annular sections of HWAT, with uncertainties between 2 and 5 void percent units.
2010. 40-45 p.