For use in the manufacture of gas tags employed in a gas tagging failure detection system for a nuclear reactor, a plurality of commercial feed gases each having a respective noble gas isotopic composition are blended under computer control to provide various tag gas mixtures having selected isotopic ratios which are optimized for specified defined conditions such as cost. Using a new approach employing a discrete variable structure rather than the known continuous-variable optimization problem, the computer controlled gas tag manufacturing process employs an analytical formalism from condensed matter physics known as stochastic relaxation, which is a special case of simulated annealing, for input feed gas selection. For a tag blending process involving M tag isotopes with N distinct feed gas mixtures commercially available from an enriched gas supplier, the manufacturing process calculates the cost difference between multiple combinations and specifies gas mixtures which approach the optimum defined conditions. The manufacturing process is then used to control tag blending apparatus incorporating tag gas canisters connected by stainless-steel tubing with computer controlled valves, with the canisters automatically filled with metered quantities of the required feed gases.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
The United States government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Chicago representing Argonne National Laboratory.