The rhodium self-powered neutron detectors (SPND) in a reactor core provide the operator with the on-line 3-dimensional nuclear power distribution. The signal produced by rhodium SPND is interpreted into the local neutron flux by using a sensitivity depletion law and the local neutron flux is interpreted into the local power by using a power conversion factor.
This work on the sensitivity depletion laws for rhodium self-powered neutron detectors (SPND) is performed to improve the uncertainty of the sensitivity depletion law used in ABB-CE reactors employing a rhodium SPND and to develop a calculational tool for providing the sensitivity depletion laws to interpret the signal of the newly designed rhodium SPND into the local neutron flux. The calculational tools for a time dependent neutron flux distribution in the rhodium emitter during depletion and for a time dependent beta escape probability that a beta generated in the emitter is escaped into the collector were developed.
Due to the cost, the exposure to the radiation, and the longer fuel cycle, there is a strong incentive that the loading density of an in-core instrumentation is reduced and the lifetime of the detector is lengthened. These objectives can be achieved by reducing the uncertainty which is amplified as it depletes. The calculational tools above provide the sensitivity depletion law and show the reduction of the uncertainty to about 1 % in interpreting the signal into the local neutron flux compared to the method employed by ABB-CE. The reduction in the uncertainty of 1 % in interpreting the signal into the local neutron flux is equivalent to the reduction in the uncertainty of 1 % or more in interpreting the signal into the local power and to the extension of the lifetime of rhodium SPND to about 10 % as reported by ABB-CE.