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Proceedings Paper

Automated fuel pellet inspection system
Author(s): John C. Lichauer; Larry J. Zana
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Paper Abstract

In the nuclear fuels industry, a great deal of effort goes into ensuring that quality materials are produced. Of these materials, none receives more attention than the uranium-oxide nuclear fuel pellets. These cylindrically shaped pellets (approx. 1/2 inch L X 1/2 inch D) are carefully produced and then meticulously inspected for various defects (e.g., cracks, chips, etc.). The inspection process is designed to remove any defective pellets from each lot, assuring the end user a reliable, predictable, and safe product. The current (manual) inspection process is laborious and subjective in nature. The inspector also receives prolonged exposure to low-level radiation. For these reasons, automated inspection of nuclear fuel pellets has long been a goal of the industry. However, it is not a simple task, due to the many material handling and image processing challenges required to inspect pellets at production rates (greater than five per second). This paper describes an automated nuclear fuel pellet inspection system that has successfully met these challenges. Built around a set of modular, high-speed, pipelined image processing hardware, it inspects pellets at rates of up to seven pellets per second. Recent tests have shown better than 97% detection rates with less than 2% false reject rates. Image processing algorithms and solutions to design challenges are described.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 November 1992
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 1823, Machine Vision Applications, Architectures, and Systems Integration, (1 November 1992); doi: 10.1117/12.132076
Show Author Affiliations
John C. Lichauer, Westinghouse Science & Technology Ctr. (United States)
Larry J. Zana, Westinghouse Science & Technology Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1823:
Machine Vision Applications, Architectures, and Systems Integration
Bruce G. Batchelor; Susan Snell Solomon; Frederick M. Waltz, Editor(s)

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