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Automatic information extraction from neutron radiography imaging to estimate axial fuel expansion in EBR-II
Journal of Nuclear Materials  (IF2.936),  Pub Date : 2021-08-25, DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2021.153250
Andrei V. Gribok, Douglas L. Porter, Kyle M. Paaren, Micah D. Gale, Scott C. Middlemas, Nancy J. Lybeck

Approximately 130,000 metal fuel pins were irradiated in the Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II) during its 30 years of operation to develop and characterize existing and prospective fuels. For many of the metal fuel irradiation experiments, neutron radiography imaging was performed to characterize fuel behavior, like fuel swelling. However, due to the lack of technology or resources, many of the images have not been processed or were processed manually through visual examination. This paper represents first-attempt to develop an image processing algorithm capable of automatically extracting information regarding the degree of fuel swelling from neutron radiography imaging. The algorithm was applied to 120 images of three different metallic fuel pin compositions—U-10Zr, U-8Pu-10Zr, and U-19Pu-10Zr. The algorithm performs operations of image intensity adjustment, image binarization, region finding, and labeling to extract information about fuel swelling. The average growth for U-10Zr was found to be 8.49% with 95% Confidence Interval (CI) [8.33 –8.66%], for U-8Pu-10Zr — 7.50% with 95% CI [7.23 – 7.78%], and for U-19Pu-10Zr — 3.15%, with 95% CI [2.40 – 3.91%]. The results obtained by applying this automatic image processing algorithm are consistent with previously reported studies of the same types of fuels. The automatic image processing algorithm will be expanded to include thousands of available neutron radiography images and different types of fuels to investigate empirical dependencies of fuel swelling, which can be subsequently applied to advanced fuel modeling. Results from this study can later be compared to BISON simulations to further benchmark modeling efforts and develop assessment cases.