Design and testing of long-lifetime active sensor arrays for in-core multi-dimensional flux measurements



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Kansas State University


Fission chambers are a common type of detector used to determine the neutron flux and power of a nuclear reactor. Due to the limited space and high neutron flux in a reactor core, it is difficult to perform real-time flux measurements with present-day in-core instrumentation. Micro-pocket fission detectors, or MPFDs, are relatively small in size and have low neutron sensitivity while retaining a large neutron to gamma ray discrimination ratio, thereby, allowing them to be used as active neutron flux monitors inside a nuclear reactor core. The micro-pocket fission chamber allows for multiple detectors to be inserted into a flux port or other available openings within the nuclear reactor core. Any material used to construct the MPFD must be rugged and capable of sustaining radiation damage for long periods of time. Each calibrated MPFD provides measurements of the flux for a discrete location. The size of these detectors allows for a spatial map of the flux to be developed, enabling real-time analysis of core burnup, power peaking, and rod shadowing. Small diameter thermocouples can be included with the array to also measure the temperature at each location. The following document details the research and development of MPFDs for long term use in nuclear power reactors. Previous MPFD designs were improved, miniaturized, and optimized for long term operations in reactor test ports designed for passive measurements of fluence using iron wires. Detector chambers with dimensions of 0.08 in x 0.06 in x 0.04 in were attached to a common cathode and individual anodes to construct an array of the MPFDs. Each array was tested at the Kansas State University TRIGA Mark II nuclear reactor to demonstrate functionality. The linear response in reactor power was measured. These arrays have also demonstrated reactor power tracking by following reactivity changes in steady state operations and reactor pulsing events. Stability testing showed consistent operation at 100 kW for several hours. The MPFDs have been demonstrated to be a viable technology for in-core measurements.



Radiation detection, Neutron detection

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

Douglas S. McGregor