VARIATION OF NEUTRON MODERATING POWER ON HDPE BY GAMMA RADIATION

  • Published : 2009.03.30

Abstract

High density polyethylene (HDPE) is degraded due to a radiation-induced oxidation when it is used as a neutron moderator in a neutron counter for a nuclear material accounting of spent fuels. The HDPE exposed to the gamma-ray emitted from the fission products in a spent nuclear fuel results in a radiation-induced degradation which changes its original molecular structure to others. So a neutron moderating power variation of HDPE, irradiated by a gamma radiation, was investigated in this work. Five HDPE moderator structures were exposed to the gamma radiation emitted from a $^{60}Co$ source to a level of $10^5-10^9$ rad to compare their post-irradiation properties. As a result of the neutron measurement test with 5 irradiated HDPE structures and a neutron measuring system, it was confirmed that the neutron moderating power for the $10^5$ rad irradiated HDPE moderator revealed the largest decrease when the un-irradiated pure one was used as a reference. It implies that a neutron moderating power variation of HDPE is not directly proportional to the integrated gamma dose rate. To clarify the cause of these changes, some techniques such as a FTIR, an element analysis and a densitometry were employed. As a result of these analyses, it was confirmed that the molecular structure of the gamma irradiated HDPEs had partially changed to others, and the contents of hydrogen and oxygen had varied during the process of a radiation-induced degradation. The mechanism of these changes cannot be explained in detail at present, and thus need further study.

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