Predicting 232U Content in Uranium
Predicting 232U Content in Uranium The minor isotope 232U may ultimately be used for detection or confirmation of uranium in a variety of applications. The primary advantage of 232 U as an indicator of the presence of enriched uranium is the plentiful and penetrating nature of the radiation emitted by its daughter radionuclide 208Tl. A possible drawback to measuring uranium via 232U is the relatively high uncertainty in 232U abundance both within and between material populations. An important step in assessing this problem is to ascertain what determines the 232U concentration within any particular sample of uranium. To this end, we here analyze the production and eventual enrichment of 232 U during fuel-cycle operations. The goal of this analysis is to allow approximate prediction of 232 U quantities, or at least some interpretation of the results of 232U measurements. We have found that 232U is produced via a number of pathways during reactor irradiation of uranium and is subsequently concentrated during the later enrichment of the uranium' s 235U Content. While exact calculations are nearly impossible for both the reactor-production and cascade-enrichment parts of the prediction problem, estimates and physical bounds can be provided as listed below and detailed within the body of the report. more »
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