HGXR Hot Cell test equipment
Experimental fission reactor facilities are essential for the development of nuclear technology for peaceful uses. New formulations and configurations of nuclear fuels are studied, critical operating conditions are experimented on to improve the safety of current and future designs, materials subjected to extreme neutron radiation flux are studied and, as a by-product, essential isotopes are obtained for use in medicine, biological research and other cutting-edge applications
All countries with nuclear technology have one or more of these reactors. Inevitably almost all reactors of this type are reaching the end of their useful life and, in most cases, there are no plans to replace them, especially in Europe. To deal with this problem, France has decided to design and build an advanced experimental reactor, the Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR). The purpose of this project – whose construction is well advanced in the facilities of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA) in Cadarache – is to provide a unique infrastructure in Europe with the latest technology for pure and applied research in the nuclear field. France has brought together a consortium of countries that will be able to use the facility, and who are participating in its construction with in-kind contributions. One of these countries is Finland.
The Finnish contribution is especially relevant, as it involves the provision of the key equipment to analyze the experimental samples in different phases, after having remained in the core of the reactor or in specific cavities of high neutron radiation called reflectors. This complex equipment includes the HGXR (Hot-Cell X-Ray and Gamma- Ray Radiography and Tomography) station, that analyzes smaller samples in the “hot cells” of the plant, with biological protection and by remote control. In this station, the internal structure of the materials (fuel or not) is analyzed by means of X-ray radiography and tomography, gamma-ray scanning and gamma-ray emission tomography.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, responsible for providing this equipment for the JHR, commissioned IDOM to develop the conceptual and detailed design, the manufacturing, testing, installation in the JHR, and the commissioning of all this equipment.
The HGXR station allows the micrometric positioning and horizontal alignment of the X-ray camera. Finally, the station has a gamma-ray collimator set made of tungsten with multiple slits with a minimum opening of 0.25mm in height and 200mm in length. For its part, the HGRX station stands out for its compatibility with high doses of radiation–as it is designed to withstand a radiation dose of 10 ^ 6Gy without damage–, as well as its compatibility of remote operation. Because the sizes of the experimental samples that this test bench will examine are smaller, the ranges of movement in altimetry are reduced, which leads to greater precision in all movements.