Fission gas monitoring tool developed for molten salt reactors

March 17, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Amanda Lines, a PNNL chemist, develops real-time monitoring tools to pave the way for faster advanced reactor testing and design. (Photo: Andrea Starr/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Advanced reactor development and testing could benefit from a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory innovation that combines remote, real-time monitoring of gaseous fission by-products with a software package designed with plant operators in mind, according to an article published online earlier this month.

The basics: “Real-time monitoring is a valuable tool, particularly in the development of next-generation reactors,” said Amanda Lines, a PNNL chemist. “This can help designers more efficiently and effectively design and test flow loops, mechanisms, or processes. Also, when they ultimately deploy their reactor systems, this gives operators a tool to better understand and control those processes.”

In conventional light-water reactors, radioactive iodine is contained in fuel rods, but in molten salt reactors, iodine gas would need to be removed from the system as it is being produced.

Looking to improve on existing methods of tracking radioiodine levels, a research team based in PNNL’s Radiochemical Processing Laboratory focused on targeting and quantifying two common forms of iodine—iodine monochloride and elemental iodine—using two spectroscopy techniques with off-the-shelf technology and then translating that data into a user-friendly software package. The team plans to take what it has learned from these studies and expand it to other by-product gases.

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