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Title: Predicting fissile content of spent nuclear fuel assemblies with the passive neutron Albedo reactivity technique and Monte Carlo code emulation

Abstract

There is a great need in the safeguards community to be able to nondestructively quantify the mass of plutonium of a spent nuclear fuel assembly. As part of the Next Generation of Safeguards Initiative, we are investigating several techniques, or detector systems, which, when integrated, will be capable of quantifying the plutonium mass of a spent fuel assembly without dismantling the assembly. This paper reports on the simulation of one of these techniques, the Passive Neutron Albedo Reactivity with Fission Chambers (PNAR-FC) system. The response of this system over a wide range of spent fuel assemblies with different burnup, initial enrichment, and cooling time characteristics is shown. A Monte Carlo method of using these modeled results to estimate the fissile content of a spent fuel assembly has been developed. A few numerical simulations of using this method are shown. Finally, additional developments still needed and being worked on are discussed.

Authors:
 [1];  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1036731
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-10-06933; LA-UR-10-6933
TRN: US1201467
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: International Conference on Mathematics and Computational Methods Applied to Nuclear Science and Engineering ; May 8, 2011 ; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; 98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; ALBEDO; BURNUP; COOLING TIME; FISSION CHAMBERS; MONTE CARLO METHOD; NEUTRONS; NUCLEAR FUELS; PLUTONIUM; SAFEGUARDS; SIMULATION; SPENT FUELS

Citation Formats

Conlin, Jeremy Lloyd, and Tobin, Stephen J. Predicting fissile content of spent nuclear fuel assemblies with the passive neutron Albedo reactivity technique and Monte Carlo code emulation. United States: N. p., 2010. Web.
Conlin, Jeremy Lloyd, & Tobin, Stephen J. Predicting fissile content of spent nuclear fuel assemblies with the passive neutron Albedo reactivity technique and Monte Carlo code emulation. United States.
Conlin, Jeremy Lloyd, and Tobin, Stephen J. Wed . "Predicting fissile content of spent nuclear fuel assemblies with the passive neutron Albedo reactivity technique and Monte Carlo code emulation". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1036731.
@article{osti_1036731,
title = {Predicting fissile content of spent nuclear fuel assemblies with the passive neutron Albedo reactivity technique and Monte Carlo code emulation},
author = {Conlin, Jeremy Lloyd and Tobin, Stephen J},
abstractNote = {There is a great need in the safeguards community to be able to nondestructively quantify the mass of plutonium of a spent nuclear fuel assembly. As part of the Next Generation of Safeguards Initiative, we are investigating several techniques, or detector systems, which, when integrated, will be capable of quantifying the plutonium mass of a spent fuel assembly without dismantling the assembly. This paper reports on the simulation of one of these techniques, the Passive Neutron Albedo Reactivity with Fission Chambers (PNAR-FC) system. The response of this system over a wide range of spent fuel assemblies with different burnup, initial enrichment, and cooling time characteristics is shown. A Monte Carlo method of using these modeled results to estimate the fissile content of a spent fuel assembly has been developed. A few numerical simulations of using this method are shown. Finally, additional developments still needed and being worked on are discussed.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Oct 13 00:00:00 EDT 2010},
month = {Wed Oct 13 00:00:00 EDT 2010}
}

Conference:
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  • State regulatory bodies and organizations such as the IAEA that are concerned with preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons are interested in a means of quantifying the amount of plutonium in a given spent fuel assembly. The complexity of spent nuclear fuel makes the measurement of plutonium content challenging. There are a variety of techniques that can measure various properties of spent nuclear fuel including burnup, and mass of fissile content. No single technique can provide all desired information, necessitating an approach using multiple detector systems and types. This paper presents our analysis of the Passive Neutron Albedo Reactivity Fissionmore » Chamber (PNAR-FC) detector system. PNAR-FC is a simplified version of the PNAR technique originally developed in 1997. This earlier research was performed with a high efficiency, {sup 3}He-based system (PNAR-3He) with which multiplicty analysis was performed. With the PNAR technique a portion of the spent fuel assembly is wrapped in a 1 mm thick cadmium liner. Neutron count rates are measured both with and without the cadmium liner present. The ratio of the count rate with the cadmium liner to the count rate without the cadmium liner is calculated and called the cadmium ratio. In the PNAR-3He technique, multiplicity measurements were made and the cadmium ratio was shown to scale with the fissile content of the material being measured. PNAR-FC simplifies the PNAR technique by using only a few fission chambers instead of many {sup 3}He tubes. Using a simplified PNAR-FC technique provides for a cheaper, lighter, and thus more portable detector system than was possible with the PNAR-3He system. The challenge with the PNAR-FC system are two-fold: (1) the change in the cadmium ratio is weaker as a afunction of the changing fissile content relative to multiplicity count rates, and (2) the efficiency for the fission chamber based system are poorer than for the {sup 3}He based detectors. In this paper, we present our research on using the PNAR-FC detector system to quantify the fissile content of a spent nuclear fuel assembly.« less
  • There are a variety of motivations for quantifying plutonium (Pu) in spent fuel assemblies by means of nondestructive assay (NDA) including the following: strengthening the capability of the International Atomic Energy Agency (LAEA) to safeguard nuclear facilities, quantifying shipper/receiver difference, determining the input accountability value at pyrochemical processing facilities, providing quantitative input to burnup credit and final safeguards measurements at a long-term repository. In order to determine Pu mass in spent fuel assemblies, thirteen NDA techniques were identified that provide information about the composition of an assembly. A key motivation of the present research is the realization that none ofmore » these techniques, in isolation, is capable of both (1) quantifying the Pu mass of an assembly and (2) detecting the diversion of a significant number of rods. It is therefore anticipated that a combination of techniques will be required. A 5 year effort funded by the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) of the U.S. DOE was recently started in pursuit of these goals. The first two years involves researching all thirteen techniques using Monte Carlo modeling while the final three years involves fabricating hardware and measuring spent fuel. Here, we present the work in two main parts: (1) an overview of this NGSI effort describing the motivations and approach being taken; (2) The preliminary results for one of the NDA techniques - Passive Neutron Albedo Reactivity (PNAR). The PNAR technique functions by using the intrinsic neutron emission of the fuel (primarily from the spontaneous fission of curium) to self-interrogate any fissile material present. Two separate measurements of the spent fuel are made, both with and without cadmium (Cd) present. The ratios of the Singles, Doubles and Triples count rates obtained in each case are analyzed; known as the Cd ratio. The primary differences between the two measurements are the neutron energy spectrum and fluence in the spent fuel. By varying the thickness of the cadmium layer surrounding the spent fuel, a high and a low neutron-energy-measurement condition can be produced. The neutron detectors can be used to detect total neutrons (Singles) and/or Doubles and/or Triples. If the geometry of the measurement situation is unchanged between the two measurements, the change in the Cd ratio between these two measurements can be attributed to a change in the fissile content of the sample.« less
  • Passive Neutron Albedo Reactivity (PNAR) is one of fourteen techniques that has been researched and evaluated to form part of a comprehensive and integrated detection system for the non-destructive assay (NDA) of spent nuclear fuel. PNAR implemented with {sup 3}He tubes for neutron detection (PNAR-{sup 3}He) is the measurement of time correlated neutrons from a spent fuel assembly with and without a Cadmium (Cd) layer surrounding the assembly. PNAR utilizes the self-interrogation of the fuel via reflection of neutrons born in the fuel assembly back in to the fuel assembly. The neutrons originate primarily from spontaneous fission events within themore » fuel itself (Curium-244) but are amplified by multiplication. The presence and removal of the Cd provides two measurement conditions with different neutron energy spectra and therefore different interrogating neutron characteristics. Cd has a high cross-section of absorption for slow neutrons and therefore greatly reduces the low energy (thermal) neutron fluence rate returning. The ratios of the Singles, Doubles and Triples count rates obtained in each case are known as the Cd ratios, which are related to fissile content. A potential safeguards application for which PNAR-{sup 3}He is particularly suited is 'fingerprinting'. Fingerprinting could function as an alternative to plutonium (Pu) mass determination; providing confidence that material was not diverted during transport between sites. PNAR-{sup 3}He has six primary NDA signatures: Singles, Doubles and Triples count rates measured with two energy spectra at both shipping and receiving sites. This is to uniquely identify the fuel assembly, and confirm no changes have taken place during transport. Changes may indicate all attempt to divert material for example. Here, the physics of the PNAR-{sup 3}He concept will be explained, alongside a discussion on the development of a prototypical PNAR-{sup 3}He instrument using simulation. The capabilities and performance of the conceptual instrument will be summarized, in the context of (a) quantifying Pu mass in spent fuel assemblies and (b) detecting pin diversion (through a discrepancy between declared and measured properties of the fuel assembly) when the instrument is deployed. These quantitative capabilities are complementary to the 'fingerprinting' capability which is part of ensuring continuity of knowledge and custody of spent nuclear fuel.« less
  • The differential die-away (DDA) technique has been simulated by using the MCNPX code to quantify its capability to measure the fissile content in spent fuel assemblies, For 64 different spent fuel cases of various initial enrichment, burnup and cooling time, the count rate and signal to background ratios of the DDA system were obtained, where neutron backgrounds are mainly coming from the {sup 244}Cm of the spent fuel. To quantify the total fissile mass of spent fuel, a concept of the effective {sup 239}Pu mass was introduced by weighting the relative contribution to the signal of {sup 235}U and {supmore » 241}Pu compared to {sup 239}Pu and the calibration curves of DDA count rate vs. {sup 239}Pu{sub eff} were obtained by using the MCNPX code. With a deuterium-tritium (DT) neutron generator of 10{sup 9} n/s strength, signal to background ratios of sufficient magnitude are acquired for a DDA system with the spent fuel assembly in water.« less