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Control rod monitoring of advanced gas-cooled reactors

Wallace, Christopher and West, Graeme and Jahn, Gordon and Mcarthur, Stephen and Towle, Dave and Buckley, Graham (2010) Control rod monitoring of advanced gas-cooled reactors. In: 7th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation, Control and Human Machine Interface Technologies (NPIC&HMIT 2010), 2010-11-07 - 2010-11-11.

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The UK’s fleet of Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors (AGR) are approaching, and have in some cases exceeded, their original design lives. Continued operation is under enhanced safety cases based on monitoring, inspection and component condition assessment of the core and related systems. This paper presents an analysis of the regulating control rods of an AGR, which are used to manage the power and reactivity of the core. Current manual analyses attempt to detect possible restrictions in the motion of the rods due to degradation of the graphite core, however the development of an automated intelligent analysis of the control rod data provides a repeatable and auditable method of analyzing the data. It is shown, by means of an example data set, that despite some limitations in the scope of the recorded data, it is possible to estimate the performance of the rods and present this information to the engineer in a way that more easily indicates abnormal behavior than existing analyses. It is also noted that though this work was initially conceived as a method of detecting restrictions in the motion of the regulating control rods, the results are potentially more useful is characterizing control rod performance and has potential application in predictive maintenance.