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X-ray Tomographic Inspection of Nuclear Fuel Rods using a Limited Number of Projections

In order to avoid failures during the operation of a nuclear power plant under normal and transient conditions, it is necessary to maintain a high standard of quality assurance of the fuel components, especially the fuel pellets enclosed in zirconium cladding. The current use of manual inspection by fuel vendors for quality control of the fabricated fuel pellets is not only time-consuming, but also exposes the inspection staff to radiation. Consequently, there is a need for the development of an automated, real-time fuel rod inspection technique for better speed and accuracy. This paper investigates the feasibility of using an X-ray tomographic inspection technique for detection and characterization of anomalies in fuel pellets. Real-time inspection, however, calls for minimizing data acquisition and processing time; hence, the tomographic imaging must be performed using a limited number of projections. A statistical reconstruction algorithm is presented along with results on experimental data obtained using a 320 kVp and 13 mA X-ray source.

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