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Dissertation Defense: Evaluation of Optical Fiber Sensors in High Temperature and Nuclear Reactor Environments

Brandon Wilson, PhD Candidate, Nuclear Engineering


Committee Members:

  • Professor Thomas Blue
  • Professor Raymond Cao
  • Professor Marat Khafizov


The Department of Energy and Idaho National Laboratory are restarting the TREAT reactor and are interested in updating the reactor’s instrumentation regarding the analysis of the test fuel. Optical fibers’ ability to make distributed temperature measurements coupled with its small footprint makes optical fiber a viable candidate to monitor fuel performance in the TREAT reactor. In addition to the TREAT reactor, the U.S. Department of Energy and nuclear reactor companies like TerraPower have shown interest in using distributed optically-based instrumentation for nuclear instrumentation in next-gen reactors. The performance and evaluation of optical fiber based instrumentation in high temperature and radiation environments is the main goal of this work. A feasibility study to determine the viability of extending this technology to the nuclear field was made. In addition to the performance testing of commercial optical fiber based instrumentation, I was able to modify and innovate various aspects of the optical fiber based instrumentation, so that it could survive the high temperature and radiation environments of a next-gen reactor.