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Title: Laser and gas centrifuge enrichment

Abstract

Principles of uranium isotope enrichment using various laser and gas centrifuge techniques are briefly discussed. Examples on production of high enriched uranium are given. Concerns regarding the possibility of using low end technologies to produce weapons grade uranium are explained. Based on current assessments commercial enrichment services are able to cover the global needs of enriched uranium in the foreseeable future.

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22280427
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: AIP Conference Proceedings; Journal Volume: 1596; Journal Issue: 1; Conference: Short course on nuclear weapon issues in the 21st century, Washington, DC (United States), 2-3 Nov 2013; Other Information: (c) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; ENRICHMENT; GAS CENTRIFUGES; HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM; LASERS; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; PROLIFERATION; URANIUM ISOTOPES

Citation Formats

Heinonen, Olli. Laser and gas centrifuge enrichment. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1063/1.4876469.
Heinonen, Olli. Laser and gas centrifuge enrichment. United States. doi:10.1063/1.4876469.
Heinonen, Olli. Fri . "Laser and gas centrifuge enrichment". United States. doi:10.1063/1.4876469.
@article{osti_22280427,
title = {Laser and gas centrifuge enrichment},
author = {Heinonen, Olli},
abstractNote = {Principles of uranium isotope enrichment using various laser and gas centrifuge techniques are briefly discussed. Examples on production of high enriched uranium are given. Concerns regarding the possibility of using low end technologies to produce weapons grade uranium are explained. Based on current assessments commercial enrichment services are able to cover the global needs of enriched uranium in the foreseeable future.},
doi = {10.1063/1.4876469},
journal = {AIP Conference Proceedings},
number = 1,
volume = 1596,
place = {United States},
year = {Fri May 09 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Fri May 09 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}
  • Improving the quality of safeguards measurements at Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plants while reducing the inspection effort is an important objective given the number of existing and new plants that need to be safeguarded. A useful tool in many safeguards approaches is the on-line monitoring of enrichment in process pipes. One requirement of such a monitor is a simple, reliable and precise passive measurement of the 186-keV line from 235U. The other information required is the amount of gas in the pipe, which can be obtained by a transmission or pressure measurement. Here, we describe our research to develop such amore » passive measurement system. Unfortunately, a complication arises in the interpretation of the gamma measurements, from the contribution of uranium deposits on the wall of the pipe to the 186-keV peak. A multi-detector approach to address this complication is presented where two measurements, one with signal primarily from gas and one with signal primarily from deposits, are performed simultaneously with different detectors and geometries. This allows a correction to be made to the 186-keV peak for the contribution from the deposit. Finally, we present the design of the multi-detector system and the results of the experimental calibration of the proof-of-principle prototype built at LANL.« less
  • Laser Ablation Absorbance Ratio Spectrometry (LAARS) is a new verification measurement technology under development at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). LAARS uses three lasers to ablate and then measure the relative isotopic abundance of uranium compounds. An ablation laser is tightly focused on uranium-bearing solids producing a small plume containing uranium atoms. Two collinear wavelength-tuned spectrometry lasers transit through the plume and the absorbance of U-235 and U-238 isotopes are measured to determine U-235 enrichment. The measurement has high relative precision and detection limits approaching the femtogram range for uranium. It is independent ofmore » chemical form and degree of dilution with nuisance dust and other materials. High speed sample scanning and pinpoint characterization allow measurements on millions of particles/hour to detect and analyze the enrichment of trace uranium in samples. The spectrometer is assembled using commercially available components at comparatively low cost, and features a compact and low power design. Future designs can be engineered for reliable, autonomous deployment within an industrial plant environment. Two specific applications of the spectrometer are under development: 1) automated unattended aerosol sampling and analysis and 2) on-site small sample destructive assay measurement. The two applications propose game-changing technological advances in gaseous centrifuge enrichment plant (GCEP) safeguards verification. The aerosol measurement instrument, LAARS-environmental sampling (ES), collects aerosol particles from the plant environment in a purpose-built rotating drum impactor and then uses LAARS-ES to quickly scan the surface of the impactor to measure the enrichments of the captured particles. The current approach to plant misuse detection involves swipe sampling and offsite analysis. Though this approach is very robust it generally requires several months to obtain results from a given sample collection. The destructive assay instrument, LAARS-destructive assay (DA), uses a simple purpose-built fixture with a sampling planchet to collect adsorbed UF6 gas from a cylinder valve or from a process line tap or pigtail. A portable LAARS-DA instrument scans the microgram quantity of uranium collected on the planchet and the assay of the uranium is measured to ~0.15% relative precision. Currently, destructive assay samples for bias defect measurements are collected in small sample cylinders for offsite mass spectrometry measurement.« less