A High Temperature High Reliability Control Rod Position Sensor for Improved Nuclear Power System Instrumentation

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Sporian Microsystems
515 Courtney Way, Suite B
Lafayette, CO 80026
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Advancements are needed to improve and optimize the performance of existing and future nuclear power plants and nuclear power systems by developing and improving the reliability of advanced instrumentation. A need has been identified for an improved control rod position sensor for fault free confirmation control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) function, improving long term reliability, maximizing SCRAM reliability, and minimizing SCRAM disengaging time. The technical challenges of developing such a sensor are: insensitivity of particulates, small size, high reliability, and harsh environment operation including very high temperatures (600oC), high pressures (2200 PSIG), and irradiation. Sporian proposes to work with Babcock & amp; Wilcox Nuclear Energy to develop such a small, high reliability, high temperature operable, control rod position sensor, based on leveraging Sporians past experience with high temperature sensors and packaging, and facilitative ceramic electronics packaging technologies. The Phase I effort will include materials experimental evaluation, design development, neutron irradiation testing, and proof of feasibility prototype demonstration. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The proposed sensor has the potential to improve public safety and reduce negative environmental impacts by assuring control position. A high temperature Hall effect sensor could have a variety of additional applications for position sensing in fossil fuel, transportation and industrial applications. For example, the sensor also has potential to provide blade tip timing and tachometric data for fossil fuel energy generation turbines.