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The Sodium Reactor Experiment
In February 1957, construction was completed on the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE), a sodium-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor with an output of 20 MWt. The design of theSRE had begun three years earlier in 1954, and construction started in April 1955. On April 25, 1957, the reactor reached criticality, and the SRE operated until February 1964.
A. J. Palmer, R. S. Skifton, D. C. Haggard, W. D. Swank, M. Scervini, G. L. Hawkes, C. B. T. Pham, T. L. Checketts
Nuclear Technology | Volume 209 | Number 3 | March 2023 | Pages 448-470
Technical Paper—Instrumentation and Controls | doi.org/10.1080/00295450.2022.2065873
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High-temperature gas reactor irradiation experiments create unique challenges for thermocouple-based temperature measurements. High-temperature industrial thermocouples suffer rapid decalibration due to transmutation of the thermoelements from neutron absorption. For lower-temperature applications, Type K and Type N thermocouples are affected by neutron irradiation only to a limited extent. But until recently, the use of these nickel-based thermocouples was limited when the temperature exceeded 1050°C due to drift related to phenomena other than nuclear irradiation. Certain portions of the AGR-5/6/7 experiment experienced temperatures higher than any of the previous AGR tests, up to 1500°C. Recognizing the limitations of existing thermometry to measure such high temperatures, the sponsor of the AGR-5/6/7 test supported a development and testing program for thermocouples capable of low-drift operation at temperatures above 1100°C. This program included additional development of high-temperature irradiation-resistant thermocouples based on molybdenum/niobium thermoelements, which have been studied at Idaho National Laboratory since circa 2004. A step change in accuracy and long-term stability of this thermocouple type was achieved as part of the AGR-5/6/7 thermometry development program. Additionally, long-term testing (7000+ h) at 1250°C of Type N thermocouples utilizing a customized sheath developed at the University of Cambridge has been completed with excellent low-drift results. The results of this testing as well as testing of the improved high-temperature irradiation-resistant design are reported herein. Both the improved high-temperature irradiation-resistant and the Cambridge Type N thermocouple types were incorporated into the AGR-5/6/7 test, which began irradiation in February 2018 and was completed in July 2020. A summary of the performance of the thermocouples incorporated into the AGR-5/6/7 test is included herein.