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Title: A Laser-Based Method for On-Site Analysis of UF6 at Enrichment Plants

Abstract

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) long-term research and development plan calls for more cost-effective and efficient safeguard methods to detect and deter misuse of gaseous centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs). The IAEA’s current safeguards approaches at GCEPs are based on a combination of routine and random inspections that include environmental sampling and destructive assay (DA) sample collection from UF6 in-process material and selected cylinders. Samples are then shipped offsite for subsequent laboratory analysis. In this paper, a new DA sample collection and onsite analysis approach that could help to meet challenges in transportation and chain of custody for UF6 DA samples is introduced. This approach uses a handheld sampler concept and a Laser Ablation, Laser Absorbance Spectrometry (LAARS) analysis instrument, both currently under development at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. A LAARS analysis instrument could be temporarily or permanently deployed in the IAEA control room of the facility, in the IAEA data acquisition cabinet, for example. The handheld PNNL DA sampler design collects and stabilizes a much smaller DA sample mass compared to current sampling methods. The significantly lower uranium mass reduces the sample radioactivity and the stabilization approach diminishes the risk of uranium and hydrogen fluoride release. These attributesmore » enable safe sample handling needed during onsite LAARS assay and may help ease shipping challenges for samples to be processed at the IAEA’s offsite laboratory. The LAARS and DA sampler implementation concepts will be described and preliminary technical viability results presented.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1222140
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-105466
NN4009030
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: Symposium on International Safeguards: Linking Strategy, Implementation and People, October 20-24, 2014, Vienna, Austria, IAEA CN-220
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
uranium enrichment; laser spectroscopy; LAARS

Citation Formats

Anheier, Norman C., Cannon, Bret D., Martinez, Alonzo, Barrett, Christopher A., Taubman, Matthew S., Anderson, Kevin K., and Smith, Leon E. A Laser-Based Method for On-Site Analysis of UF6 at Enrichment Plants. United States: N. p., 2014. Web.
Anheier, Norman C., Cannon, Bret D., Martinez, Alonzo, Barrett, Christopher A., Taubman, Matthew S., Anderson, Kevin K., & Smith, Leon E. A Laser-Based Method for On-Site Analysis of UF6 at Enrichment Plants. United States.
Anheier, Norman C., Cannon, Bret D., Martinez, Alonzo, Barrett, Christopher A., Taubman, Matthew S., Anderson, Kevin K., and Smith, Leon E. Sun . "A Laser-Based Method for On-Site Analysis of UF6 at Enrichment Plants". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_1222140,
title = {A Laser-Based Method for On-Site Analysis of UF6 at Enrichment Plants},
author = {Anheier, Norman C. and Cannon, Bret D. and Martinez, Alonzo and Barrett, Christopher A. and Taubman, Matthew S. and Anderson, Kevin K. and Smith, Leon E.},
abstractNote = {The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) long-term research and development plan calls for more cost-effective and efficient safeguard methods to detect and deter misuse of gaseous centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs). The IAEA’s current safeguards approaches at GCEPs are based on a combination of routine and random inspections that include environmental sampling and destructive assay (DA) sample collection from UF6 in-process material and selected cylinders. Samples are then shipped offsite for subsequent laboratory analysis. In this paper, a new DA sample collection and onsite analysis approach that could help to meet challenges in transportation and chain of custody for UF6 DA samples is introduced. This approach uses a handheld sampler concept and a Laser Ablation, Laser Absorbance Spectrometry (LAARS) analysis instrument, both currently under development at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. A LAARS analysis instrument could be temporarily or permanently deployed in the IAEA control room of the facility, in the IAEA data acquisition cabinet, for example. The handheld PNNL DA sampler design collects and stabilizes a much smaller DA sample mass compared to current sampling methods. The significantly lower uranium mass reduces the sample radioactivity and the stabilization approach diminishes the risk of uranium and hydrogen fluoride release. These attributes enable safe sample handling needed during onsite LAARS assay and may help ease shipping challenges for samples to be processed at the IAEA’s offsite laboratory. The LAARS and DA sampler implementation concepts will be described and preliminary technical viability results presented.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Nov 23 00:00:00 EST 2014},
month = {Sun Nov 23 00:00:00 EST 2014}
}

Conference:
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  • Nuclear power is enjoying rapid growth as government energy policies and public demand shift toward low carbon energy production. Pivotal to the global nuclear power renaissance is the development and deployment of robust safeguards instrumentation that allows the limited resources of the IAEA to keep pace with the expansion of the nuclear fuel cycle. Undeclared production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) remains a primary proliferation concern for modern gaseous centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs), due to their massive separative work unit (SWU) processing power and comparably short cascade equilibrium timescale. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing an unattended safeguards instrument,more » combining continuous aerosol particulate collection with uranium isotope assay, to provide timely detection of HEU production within a GCEP. This approach is based on laser vaporization of aerosol particulates, followed by laser spectroscopy to characterize the uranium enrichment level. Our prior investigation demonstrated single-shot detection sensitivity approaching the femtogram range and relative isotope ratio uncertainty better than 10% using gadolinium as a surrogate for uranium. In this paper we present measurement results on standard samples containing traces of depleted, natural, and low enriched uranium, as well as measurements on aerodynamic size uranium particles mixed in background materials (e.g., dust, minerals, soils). Improvements and optimizations in the detection electronics, signal timing, calibration, and laser alignment have lead to significant improvements in detection sensitivity and enrichment accuracy, contributing to an overall reduction in the false alarm probability. The sample substrate media was also found to play a significant role in facilitating laser-induced vaporization and the production of energetic plasma conditions, resulting in ablation optimization and further improvements in the isotope abundance sensitivity.« less
  • Nuclear power is enjoying rapid growth as government energy policies and public demand shift toward carbon neutral energy production. Accompanying the growth in nuclear power is the requirement for increased nuclear fuel production, including a significant expansion in uranium enrichment capacity. Essential to the success of the nuclear energy renaissance is the development and implementation of sustainable, proliferation-resistant nuclear power generation. Unauthorized production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) remains the primary proliferation concern for modern gaseous centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs). While to date there has been no indication of declared, safeguarded GCEPs producing HEU, the massive separative work unit (SWU)more » processing power of modern GCEPs presents a significant latent risk of nuclear breakout and suggests the need for more timely detection of potential facility misuse. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing an unattended safeguards instrument, combining continuous aerosol particulate collection with uranium isotope assay, to provide timely HEU detection within a GCEP. This approach is based on laser vaporization of aerosol particulates, followed by laser spectroscopy to characterize the uranium enrichment level. We demonstrate enrichment assay, with relative isotope abundance uncertainty <5%, on individual micron-sized particles that are trace components within a mixture ‘background’ particles« less
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