Performance of Custom-Made Very High Temperature Thermocouples in the Advanced Gas Reactor Experiment AGR-5/6/7 during Irradiation in the Advanced Test Reactor
Idaho National Laboratory
* A. J. Palmer, R.S. Skifton, D.C. Haggard, and W. D. Swank are with the Idaho National Laboratory, P.O. Box 1625, MS 3840, Idaho Falls, ID, USA 38415-3840. The corresponding author’s email address is email@example.com.
M. Scervini is with the University of Cambridge, Department of Material Science and Metallurgy, 27 Charles Babbage Road, CB3 0FS, Cambridge, UK.
Published online: 20 January 2020
The Advanced Gas Reactor-5/6/7 (AGR-5/6/7) experiment is the fourth and final experiment in the AGR experiment series and will serve as the formal fuel qualification test for the TRISO fuels under development by the U.S. Department of Energy. Certain locations in this experiment reach temperatures higher than any of the previous AGR tests, up to 1500°C. Such extreme temperatures create unique challenges for thermocouple-based temperature measurements. High-temperature platinum-rhodium thermocouples (Types S, R, and B)and tungsten-rhenium thermocouples (Type C) suffer rapiddecalibration due to transmutation of the thermoelements fromneutron absorption. For lower temperature applications, previousexperience with Type K thermocouples in nuclear reactors haveshown that they are affected by neutron irradiation only to alimited extent. Similarly, Type N thermocouples, which are morestable than Type K at high temperatures, are only slightly affectedby neutron fluence. Until recently, the use of these nickel-basedthermocouples was limited when the temperature exceeds 1050°Cdue to drift related to phenomena other than nuclear irradiation.Recognizing the limitations of existing thermometery to measuresuch high temperatures, the sponsor of the AGR-5/6/7 experimentsupported a development and testing program for thermocouplescapable of low drift operation at temperatures above 1100°C. High Temperature Irradiation Resistant Thermocouples (HTIR-TCs)based on molybdenum/niobium thermoelements have been underdevelopment at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) since circa 2004. A step change in accuracy and long-term stability of thisthermocouple type has been achieved as part of the AGR-5/6/7thermometry development program. Additionally, long-termtesting (9000+ hrs) at 1250°C of the Type N thermocouplesutilizing a customized sheath developed at the University ofCambridge has been completed with low drift results. Both theimproved HTIR and the Cambridge Type N thermocouple typeshave been incorporated into the AGR-5/6/7 test, which beganirradiation in February 2018 in INL’s Advanced
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
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