Nuclear energy remains the only zero-carbon generating source that we can operate around-the-clock with very high reliability. (...) If our objective is lower carbon emissions, then nuclear should be part of the solution.'' - Lynn Good (CEO of Duke Energy): Solving the Lower-Carbon Puzzle.
Although there are debates about the role of nuclear power in the energy resource mix, it is undoubtedly carbon-free and part of the solution to the sustainability dilemma. The recent R\&D of Generation IV nuclear reactors aims to improve the nuclear technology further by addressing the enhancement of sustainability, economics, safety and reliability, proliferation resistance and physical protection.
One aspect of the safe operation concerns the monitoring of the proper functioning of nuclear reactors. This thesis focuses on the possible enhancements of neutron monitoring. Namely, the goal of this work is to investigate the applicability of detector signal processing methods, which could result in less complex and more reliable measurement systems, and incorporate self-monitoring capabilities in order to detect the possible malfunctions of the monitoring system itself at an early stage.
Neutron detector signals contain a stochastic fluctuation around its mean value, whose interpretation is challenging. It is shown in this thesis that unfolding important information about the reactor power level is possible by investigating the statistical properties (variance-like quantities of a measured sample) of the signal. The accuracy of such methods was investigated and verified through simulations and experimental applications. By the methods elaborated in this thesis, a faster, more effective and more accurate monitoring of the reactor power is possible than with the methods used so far, even when the normal operating state is changing.
Zsolt Elter obtained his MSc degree in Physics at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2011. He was working for one year at the Hungarian Atomic Energy Research Institute on the reactor physics aspects of Gas cooled Fast Reactor systems. He has started his PhD studies in 2012. This thesis contains the work that the author has performed during the last four years, from which 2.5 years were spent at CEA Cadarache (France) in the frame of an agreement between the Swedish Research Council and CEA.