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Title: Self-poweredWireless Dual-mode Langasite Sensor for Pressure/Temperature Monitoring of Nuclear Reactors

Abstract

Safety issues in nuclear power plants are of extreme importance. Numerous sensors are used within nuclear power plants for sensing and monitoring of its critical operation parameters. As currently implemented, during massive losses of power across the plant in accidents, the backup batteries for the monitoring sensors will ultimately be drained and can cease to operate. The overall objective of this NEUP project is to develop a novel self-powered wireless hybrid sensor which can accurately monitor both pressure and temperature using a single device, even in the extreme harsh environments of severe nuclear accidents, without the requirement of external electricity. At Virginia Tech side, a heat pipe assisted thermoelectric generator (TEG) energy harvester and associated power management and data transmission circuits were developed. The energy harvester can produce electrical power continuously, even in loss of plant and external power situations, providing power for important data transmission for accident diagnosis. The self-powered sensing system could be integrated directly onto key nuclear components including pipes, pump housings, heat exchangers, reactor vessels, and shielding structures inside and outside of the reactor core. Two TEG based energy harvesters which can work in relatively low (50-250 ºC) and high temperature ranges (250-350 ºC) were establishedmore » and tested. In the prototypes, heat pipes were introduced to reduce the heat resistances of the device at the hot and cold ends. The power output of the heat pipe assisted TEG module is 2.22 W, which is 6 times more than one using an aluminum rod. In-lab tests showed that these devices canmeet the requirement to power the sensors and circuit during normal and off-normal conditions.Amodel was then built to analyze the thermal network in the energy harvester, and was used to optimize its performance and reduce its geometry size. The design and testing of the vibrational energy harvester were completed. The harvester, has shown to effectively increase the vibrational potential of the main coolant pump, though it has been shown that thermal energy has a much higher potential for the powering of sensors. In this project, a self-start charger circuit for the energy harvester was designed to regulate and manage the power. An energy storage element was incorporated into the energy harvesting module for sensors and wireless transceivers in an off-normal situation. The signal conditioning and wireless communication electronic circuits were developed and tested in the lab. An important consideration for an energy harvester within a nuclear power plant is the level of radiation it will encounter during operation. The two main sources of radiation in a nuclear power plant are gamma and neutron radiation. Aradiation experiment was conducted in the Westinghouse Electric Company during which the prototypes were placed in a 106 rad radiation environment to test their ability to operate in the extreme environment. The results showed that this level of radiation had little effect on the performance of the TEGmaterial and heat pipe heat exchanging system. Its influence on the circuit was still under research, however the need for more development on radiation hardened electronics is needed. Pressure measurement based on piezoelectric crystal resonators has advantages over the commercially available methods like capacitive, electromagnetic, optical, potentiometric, and piezo resistive strain gauges. Since the output of piezoelectric based sensors are digital in format, it has a very high resolution, high accuracy, and long-term stability. Quartz is one of the commonly used piezoelectric material in digital pressure sensors design. This material is elastic in nature, providing high stability, high repeatability, high elasticity, repeatable mechanical behavior for many cycles of operation, and is free of hysteresis. The quartz resonator has a high Q, which means that very high vibration can be driven with the very low electric power. Langasite (LGS) is a new promising piezoelectric material that combines the advantageous properties of quartz with a better performance at high temperatures. LGS will not undergo any phase transitions up to its melting temperature of 1473 C, and hence, the application of Langasite in measuring pressure at high temperatures is promising. In this project, the design and fabrication of the piezo oscillator crystal for temperature and pressure measurement has been completed. The entire sensor has been fabricated and tested to see its sensitivity to temperature and pressure changes. The design and optimization of the radiation shielding systems that can effective protect the duel-mode Langasite sensor inside reactor core were demonstrated. To maximize the radiation shielding effectiveness, different types of materials are investigated based upon recent developments of radiation shielding systems including aluminum + Boron carbide and bismuth borosilicate glass B2O3 in addition to tungsten/B4C. New materials based upon metatheses is included as potential shielding to mitigate neutron fluencies. The radiation shielding effectiveness of selected composites are evaluated within a broader neutron spectrum from thermal, epithermal, fast (1 MeV) and 15 MeV neutrons. Performance analysis was also conducted to evaluate the effects of selected composite systems.Aconceptual design was also proposed for the packaging and integration of the radiation shielding system with the sensor, and its applicability within the reactor core was discussed. At end of the project, all components necessary for a complete sensing and monitoring system, including a langasite sensor, electrodes, the TEG harvester, an energy storage device, and power management and transmission electronics were integrated to demonstrate feasibility in powering the sensor. Finally, integration of each component into a full package, and a full demonstration were done.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
The Research Foundation of State University New York (SUNY)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
OSTI Identifier:
1505496
Report Number(s):
13-5479
13-5479
DOE Contract Number:  
NE0000747
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Chen, Shikui. Self-poweredWireless Dual-mode Langasite Sensor for Pressure/Temperature Monitoring of Nuclear Reactors. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.2172/1505496.
Chen, Shikui. Self-poweredWireless Dual-mode Langasite Sensor for Pressure/Temperature Monitoring of Nuclear Reactors. United States. doi:10.2172/1505496.
Chen, Shikui. Mon . "Self-poweredWireless Dual-mode Langasite Sensor for Pressure/Temperature Monitoring of Nuclear Reactors". United States. doi:10.2172/1505496. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1505496.
@article{osti_1505496,
title = {Self-poweredWireless Dual-mode Langasite Sensor for Pressure/Temperature Monitoring of Nuclear Reactors},
author = {Chen, Shikui},
abstractNote = {Safety issues in nuclear power plants are of extreme importance. Numerous sensors are used within nuclear power plants for sensing and monitoring of its critical operation parameters. As currently implemented, during massive losses of power across the plant in accidents, the backup batteries for the monitoring sensors will ultimately be drained and can cease to operate. The overall objective of this NEUP project is to develop a novel self-powered wireless hybrid sensor which can accurately monitor both pressure and temperature using a single device, even in the extreme harsh environments of severe nuclear accidents, without the requirement of external electricity. At Virginia Tech side, a heat pipe assisted thermoelectric generator (TEG) energy harvester and associated power management and data transmission circuits were developed. The energy harvester can produce electrical power continuously, even in loss of plant and external power situations, providing power for important data transmission for accident diagnosis. The self-powered sensing system could be integrated directly onto key nuclear components including pipes, pump housings, heat exchangers, reactor vessels, and shielding structures inside and outside of the reactor core. Two TEG based energy harvesters which can work in relatively low (50-250 ºC) and high temperature ranges (250-350 ºC) were established and tested. In the prototypes, heat pipes were introduced to reduce the heat resistances of the device at the hot and cold ends. The power output of the heat pipe assisted TEG module is 2.22 W, which is 6 times more than one using an aluminum rod. In-lab tests showed that these devices canmeet the requirement to power the sensors and circuit during normal and off-normal conditions.Amodel was then built to analyze the thermal network in the energy harvester, and was used to optimize its performance and reduce its geometry size. The design and testing of the vibrational energy harvester were completed. The harvester, has shown to effectively increase the vibrational potential of the main coolant pump, though it has been shown that thermal energy has a much higher potential for the powering of sensors. In this project, a self-start charger circuit for the energy harvester was designed to regulate and manage the power. An energy storage element was incorporated into the energy harvesting module for sensors and wireless transceivers in an off-normal situation. The signal conditioning and wireless communication electronic circuits were developed and tested in the lab. An important consideration for an energy harvester within a nuclear power plant is the level of radiation it will encounter during operation. The two main sources of radiation in a nuclear power plant are gamma and neutron radiation. Aradiation experiment was conducted in the Westinghouse Electric Company during which the prototypes were placed in a 106 rad radiation environment to test their ability to operate in the extreme environment. The results showed that this level of radiation had little effect on the performance of the TEGmaterial and heat pipe heat exchanging system. Its influence on the circuit was still under research, however the need for more development on radiation hardened electronics is needed. Pressure measurement based on piezoelectric crystal resonators has advantages over the commercially available methods like capacitive, electromagnetic, optical, potentiometric, and piezo resistive strain gauges. Since the output of piezoelectric based sensors are digital in format, it has a very high resolution, high accuracy, and long-term stability. Quartz is one of the commonly used piezoelectric material in digital pressure sensors design. This material is elastic in nature, providing high stability, high repeatability, high elasticity, repeatable mechanical behavior for many cycles of operation, and is free of hysteresis. The quartz resonator has a high Q, which means that very high vibration can be driven with the very low electric power. Langasite (LGS) is a new promising piezoelectric material that combines the advantageous properties of quartz with a better performance at high temperatures. LGS will not undergo any phase transitions up to its melting temperature of 1473 C, and hence, the application of Langasite in measuring pressure at high temperatures is promising. In this project, the design and fabrication of the piezo oscillator crystal for temperature and pressure measurement has been completed. The entire sensor has been fabricated and tested to see its sensitivity to temperature and pressure changes. The design and optimization of the radiation shielding systems that can effective protect the duel-mode Langasite sensor inside reactor core were demonstrated. To maximize the radiation shielding effectiveness, different types of materials are investigated based upon recent developments of radiation shielding systems including aluminum + Boron carbide and bismuth borosilicate glass B2O3 in addition to tungsten/B4C. New materials based upon metatheses is included as potential shielding to mitigate neutron fluencies. The radiation shielding effectiveness of selected composites are evaluated within a broader neutron spectrum from thermal, epithermal, fast (1 MeV) and 15 MeV neutrons. Performance analysis was also conducted to evaluate the effects of selected composite systems.Aconceptual design was also proposed for the packaging and integration of the radiation shielding system with the sensor, and its applicability within the reactor core was discussed. At end of the project, all components necessary for a complete sensing and monitoring system, including a langasite sensor, electrodes, the TEG harvester, an energy storage device, and power management and transmission electronics were integrated to demonstrate feasibility in powering the sensor. Finally, integration of each component into a full package, and a full demonstration were done.},
doi = {10.2172/1505496},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {3}
}