A thermal equilibrium prediction algorithm is developed and tested using a heat conduction model and data sets from calorimetric measurements. The physical model used in this study is the exact solution of a system of two partial differential equations that govern the heat conduction in the calorimeter. A multi-parameter estimation technique is developed and implemented to estimate the effective volumetric heat generation and thermal diffusivity in the calorimeter measurement chamber, and the effective thermal diffusivity of the heat flux sensor. These effective properties and the exact solution are used to predict the heat flux sensor voltage readings at thermal equilibrium. Thermal equilibrium predictions are carried out considering only 20% of the total measurement time required for thermal equilibrium. A comparison of the predicted and experimental thermal equilibrium voltages shows that the average percentage error from 330 data sets is only 0.1%. The data sets used in this study come from calorimeters of different sizes that use different kinds of heat flux sensors. Furthermore, different nuclear material matrices were assayed in the process of generating these data sets. This study shows that the integration of this algorithm into the calorimeter data acquisition software will result in an 80% reduction of measurement time. This reduction results in a significant cutback in operational costs for the calorimetric assay of nuclear materials.

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