Toward the implementation of self-powered, wireless, real-time reactor power sensing

James Turso, Jorge V. Carvajal, Shawn C. Stafford, Michael D. Heibel, Paul M. Sirianni, Melissa M. Heagy, Gokhan Corak, Robert W. Flammang, Nicola G. Arlia, Kenan Unlu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The successful development of real-time, self-powered, wireless reactor power sensing technology would enable key operating parameters of every fuel assembly in a commercial reactor core to be continuously monitored, and potentially be utilized for applications such as closed-loop reactor control. This paper discusses the expansion of successful work on the application of Self Powered Neutron Detectors (SPND) for reactor power monitoring and the wireless transmission of these detector signals using advanced vacuum micro-electronic (VME) transmitter technology developed by Westinghouse in collaboration with the Penn State University Radiation Science and Engineering Center. Results demonstrate that this technology may be successfully applied via long-term testing in the Penn State TRIGA reactor. SPND are inherently slower than, for example, ion chambers due to their dependence on radioactive decay to generate a signal. Additional research developed delay compensation algorithms to accelerate the response of these detectors for use in near-real-time closed-loop reactor control. Initial results indicate that practical signal acceleration can be obtained digitally or with an equivalent analog circuit. Future research will apply an inverse model of the sensor's balance differential equations to more-effectively accelerate the SPND signal. Use of inverse models will also prove to be adaptive in the sense that time-dependent burn-up of these detectors, due to neutron activation of the detector material, can be modeled and applied in the acceleration algorithm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107252
JournalAnnals of Nuclear Energy
StatePublished - May 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering


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