In the past, expensive measuring devices were used to determine performance and efficiency on nuclear turbine cycles. More recently, sodium-24 replaced these devices because of the reduced cost, increased accuracy and improved precision. While radioactive sodium-24 has significant advantages, it brings with it several disadvantages such as:
1. limited useful working time,
2. exposure of testing personnel to ionizing radiation,
3. limited availability,
4. the need for government licensing which for all practical purposes precludes its use in fossil plants,
5. unacceptable radioactive release to the environment during boiler blow-down,
6. complex analysis procedure.
Thus, a nonradioactive replacement for sodium-24 has become economically desirable as well as necessary from the ease of use point of view.
In this paper, the procedure for choosing a nonradioactive replacement tracer will be discussed with reference to the criteria needed to be satisfied for an adequate tracer e.g., a suitable and sensitive analytical detection technique that would be already available to power plants. Necessary refinements to the sodium-24 testing procedure will also be discussed as well as a unique means of preconcentrating the tracer prior to analysis. The laboratory evaluation and method development to be discussed in the paper was funded by EPRI.
The potential applications for the new tracer, which include all sodium-24 uses, will be noted. These uses include, but are not limited to component performance, heater leakage, and moisture calculations. Because federal licensing of the nonradioactive tracer is not necessary, tests in a fossil plant are possible and will also be discussed.
The completed laboratory experiments indicate high promise for success in actual field tests which are scheduled for mid-1984 for fossil plant testing, and mid-1985 for nuclear station testing.