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Method for Analyzing Fission Gas Release in Fuel Rods Based on Gamma-Ray Measurements of Short-Lived Fission Products

Scott Holcombe, Staffan Jacobsson Svärd, Knut Eitrheim, Lars Hallstadius, Christofer Willman

Nuclear Technology / Volume 184 / Number 1 / Pages 96-106

October 2013


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Fission gases are produced as a result of fission reactions in nuclear fuel. Most of these gases remain trapped within the fuel pellets, but some may be released to the fuel rod internal gas volume under certain conditions. This phenomenon of fission gas release is important for fuel performance since the released gases can degrade the thermal properties of the fuel rod fill gas and contribute to increasing fuel rod internal pressure.

Various destructive and nondestructive methods are available for determining the amount of fission gas release; however, the current methods are primarily useful for determining the integrated fission gas release fraction, i.e., the amount of fission gas produced in the fuel that has been released to the free rod volume over the entire lifetime of a nuclear fuel rod.

In this work, a method is proposed for determining the fission gas release that occurs during short irradiation sequences. The proposed method is based on spectroscopic measurements of gamma rays emitted in the decay of short-lived fission gas isotopes. Determining such sequence-specific fission gas release can be of interest when evaluating the fuel behavior for selected times during irradiation, such as during power ramps. The data obtained in this type of measurement may also be useful for investigating the mechanisms behind fission gas release for fuel at high burnup.

The method is demonstrated based on the analysis of experimental gamma-ray spectra previously collected using equipment not dedicated for this purpose; however, the analysis indicates the feasibility of the method. Further evaluation of the method is planned, using dedicated equipment at the Halden Boiling Water Reactor.

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