This EMRP (European Metrology Research Programme) project, MetroFission, has been looking at solving metrological problems related to a new generation of nuclear power plants. The proposed Generation IV power plants are designed to run safely, make efficient use of natural resources, minimize the waste and maintain proliferation resistance. In order to reach these goals, the reactor operation involves higher temperatures, high-energy neutron fluence, different types of fuel where the minor actinides are included etc. In this multidisciplinary project, which has 12 partners in 10 countries, the work has focused on improved temperature measurements, investigation of thermal properties of advanced materials, determination of new and relevant nuclear data and development of measurement techniques for radionuclides suitable for Generation IV power plants.
The improved temperature measurement for nuclear power plant applications includes the development of a new Fe-C fixed point. Robust, repeatable and versatile cells have been constructed and compared with success among the project participants and their melting temperatures have been determined. Furthermore, the methodology of self-validating thermocouples has proven efficient at several fixed point temperatures (Au, Cu, Co-C, Fe-C) using different designs. A practical acoustic thermometer has been tested at high temperature (1000 °C) with success thanks to the use of innovative signal processing methods. Mo/Nb thermocouples have been obtained with different sheath materials and tested with the aim to achieve for the first time a reference function determined with the best possible uncertainties.
Following reviews of designs and technology proposed for fourth generation nuclear plants effort within this project, with regards to thermal properties of advanced materials for nuclear design, has concentrated on provision of thermodynamic data to support the development of the sodium cooled fast reactor (ASTRID).
Data has been critically assessed to represent the potential interaction between the Na coolant and the nuclear fuel taken to be based on (U,Pu)O2 but incorporating minor actinides such as Np and Am. Data for the fission products and containment materials have also been reviewed and new data assessed to represent the interaction between them and the Na coolant, in order to permit calculation of phase and chemical equilibria for severe accident scenarios. The aim is to publish the data developed during this project within a revised version of “Thermochemical data for reactor materials and fission products”, last published in 1990.