Gamma spectroscopy and gamma emission tomography are two non-destructive measurement techniques for assessing the performance of nuclear fuel which have been investigated in this thesis for existing and novel applications through theoretical studies and experimental demonstrations. For assessment of individual fuel rods using gamma spectroscopy, fuel assemblies are dismantled so that the fuel rods may be measured separately, which is time-consuming and may cause damage to the fuel. Gamma tomography is more seldom used, but its application on complete fuel assemblies would enable the assessment of individual fuel rods without the need to disassemble the fuel. Both techniques are based on recording gamma rays, emitted at characteristic energies from decaying radioactive products in the fuel.
The feasibility of measuring short-lived fission gasses in the gas plenum of fuel rods with short cooling time was experimentally investigated. Based on the feasibility demonstration, a method was proposed and experimentally demonstrated for determining the fission gas release fraction of 133Xe in fuel rods with short cooling time. Additionally, a method for investigating the origin of released fission gasses based on the measured ratio of 133Xe/85Kr in the fuel rod gas plenum was demonstrated. These methods may be employed at research reactors, where fuel with short cooling time is available for measurement.
A gamma emission tomography instrument has been designed, constructed and experimentally demonstrated on a Halden Reactor fuel assembly. Simulation studies showed that the instrument and the tomographic reconstruction methods employed may be useful for: identifying a leaking fuel rod in an assembly by its lack of fission gas content; reconstruction of the rod-wise fission product distributions in the fuel stack and plenum regions of the assembly; and determining the rod-wise fission gas release fractions.
In the experimental demonstration, the rod-wise distributions of the fission products 137Cs and 85Kr in the fuel stack and plenum regions of the assembly were reconstructed, as well as the distributions of the activation products 60Co and 178mHf in the plenum region, revealing the plenum springs and tie rods, respectively. The reconstructed data was in the form of images, useful for qualitative assessment of the fuel.