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Statistical analysis and Kalman filtering applied to nuclear materials accountancy

Annibal, P. S. (1990). Statistical analysis and Kalman filtering applied to nuclear materials accountancy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


It is important for political, commercial, security and safety reasons to be assured that all nuclear material is accounted for at all times. However, measurement and accessibility problems mean that there will always be a degree of uncertainty, which can be minimized but not eliminated by careful design of nuclear plants and instruments.

Much theoretical research has been carried out on the development of statistical methods for nuclear material accountancy. In practice, physical, financial and time constraints mean that the techniques must be adapted to give an optimal performance in plant conditions. This thesis aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice, to show the benefits to be gained from a knowledge of the facility operation.

Four different aspects are considered; firstly, the use of redundant measurements to reduce the error on the estimate of the mass of heavy metal in an 'accountancy tank' is investigated. Secondly, an analysis of the calibration data for the same tank is presented, establishing bounds for the error and suggesting a means of reducing them. Thirdly, a plant-specific method of producing an optimal statistic from the input, output and inventory data, to help decide between 'material loss' and 'no loss' hypotheses, is developed and compared with existing general techniques. Finally, an application of the Kalman Filter to materials accountancy is developed, to demonstrate the advantages of state-estimation techniques.

The results of the analyses and comparisons illustrate the importance of taking into account a complete and accurate knowledge of the plant operation, measurement system, and calibration methods, to derive meaningful results from statistical tests on materials accountancy data, and to give a better understanding of critical random and systematic error sources.

The analyses were carried out on the head-end of the Fast Reactor Reprocessing Plant, where fuel from the prototype fast reactor is cut up and dissolved. However, the techniques described are general in their application.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering > Electrical & Electronic Engineering
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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