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Automated in-core image generation from video to aid visual inspection of nuclear power plant cores

Murray, Paul and West, Graeme and Marshall, Stephen and McArthur, Stephen (2016) Automated in-core image generation from video to aid visual inspection of nuclear power plant cores. Nuclear Engineering and Design, 300. pp. 57-66. ISSN 0029-5493

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Abstract

Inspection and monitoring of key components of nuclear power plant reactors is an essential activity for understanding the current health of the power plant and ensuring that they continue to remain safe to operate. As the power plants age, and the components degrade from their initial start-of-life conditions, the requirement for more and more detailed inspection and monitoring information increases. Deployment of new monitoring and inspection equipment on existing operational plant is complex and expensive, as the effect of introducing new sensing and imaging equipment to the existing operational functions needs to be fully understood. Where existing sources of data can be leveraged, the need for new equipment development and installation can be offset by the development of advanced data processing techniques. This paper introduces a novel technique for creating full 360° panorama images of the inside surface of fuel channels from in-core inspection footage. Through the development of this technique, a number of technical challenges associated with the constraints of using existing equipment have been addressed. These include: the inability to calibrate the camera specifically for image stitching; dealing with additional data not relevant to the panorama construction; dealing with noisy images; and generalising the approach to work with two different capture devices deployed at seven different Advanced Gas Cooled Reactor nuclear power plants. The resulting data processing system is currently under formal assessment with a view to replacing the existing manual assembly of in-core defect montages. Deployment of the system will result in significant time savings on the critical outage path for the plant operator and will result in improved visualisation of the surface of the inside of fuel channels, far beyond that which can be gained from manually analysing the raw video footage as is done at present.