Análisis de activación neutrónica y actividad en el acero de la vasija de un reactor nuclear tipo BWR para su estudio sin riesgos radiológicos en microscopía y espectrometría

M. Moranchel, A. García Bórquez, L. C


The vessel material of nuclear reactors is subject to irradiation damage induced by the bombardment of neutrons coming from the reactor core. Neutrons are classified as fast and thermal, which produce different effects. Fast neutrons cause damage to the material by dislocation or displacement of atoms in the crystal structure, while the effect of thermal neutrons is a nuclear transmutation that can significantly change the properties of the material. The type and intensity of damage is based on the characteristics of the material, the flow of neutrons and the modes of interaction of neutrons with the atomic structures of the material, among others. This work, alluding to nuclear transmutation, makes an analysis of neutron activation of all isotopes in a steel boiling water nuclear reactor (BWR) vessel. An analytical expression is obtained in order to model the activity of steel, on the basis of the weight percentage of its atomic components. Its activity is theoretically estimated in a witness sample of the same material as that of the vessel, placed within the nuclear reactor since the beginning of its commercial operation in April 1995, up to August 2010. It was theoretically determined that the witness sample, with a 0.56 g mass (1$\times$1$\times$0.07 cm$^{3}$ dimensions or equivalent) does not present a radiological risks during the stage of preparation, observation and analysis of it in electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction equipments. The theoretical results were checked experimentally by measuring the activity of the sample by means of gamma spectrometry, measurement of the exposure levels around the sample, as well as the induced level to whole body and limbs, using thermo-luminescent dosimetry (TLD). As a result of the theoretical analysis, new chemical elements are predicted, as a result of the activation phenomena and radioactive decay, whose presence can be a fundamental factor of change in the properties of the vessel. This work is a preamble to the investigation of the damage of neutron irradiation on the steel of the vessel of boiling water reactors (BWR) using electron microscopy, spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques.


Activation; activity; steel; neutrons

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Revista Mexicana de Física

ISSN: 2683-2224 (on line), 0035-001X (print)

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