Abstract

The Isotope Ratio Method (IRM) is a technique used for estimating the energy production in a fission reactor by measuring isotope ratios in non-fuel reactor components. This method has been successfully demonstrated on the estimation of cumulative energy production as well as plutonium production in graphite-moderated and light-water-moderated reactors for non-proliferation purposes. In this paper, IRM was used to estimate neutron fluence in Zr-2.5Nb materials irradiated in fast neutron (FN) irradiation facilities in the NRU reactor. Neutron fluence has been shown to be an important parameter for studying irradiation effects on the performance and properties of critical reactor components. Selected isotope ratios of hafnium and iron were used as indicators of the neutron fluence in Zr-2.5Nb sample materials. Correlations between neutron fluence and the indicator element isotope ratios were generated using the reactor physics simulation codes WIMS AECL and SCALE/ORIGEN. Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) was used to obtain accurate measurements of the isotope ratios. Neutron fluence values estimated using IRM, were in good agreement with the values based on measured irradiation power histories of the NRU reactor. This study proposes a potential application of IRM to the estimation of neutron fluence for critical reactor components in heavy water-moderated reactors such as pressure and calandria tubes in CANDU® reactors.

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