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Title: Bi-Modal Model for Neutron Emissions from PuO{sub 2} and MOX Holdup

Abstract

The measurement of uranium and plutonium holdup in plants during process activity and for decommissioning is important for nuclear safeguards and material control. The amount of plutonium and uranium holdup in glove-boxes, pipes, ducts, and other containers has been measured for several decades using both neutron and gamma-ray techniques. For the larger containers such as hot cells and glove-boxes that contain processing equipment, the gamma-ray techniques are limited by self-shielding in the sample as well as gamma absorption in the equipment and associated shielding. The neutron emission is more penetrating and has been used extensively to measure the holdup for the large facilities such as the MOX processing and fabrication facilities in Japan and Europe. In some case the totals neutron emission rates are used to determine the holdup mass and in other cases the coincidence rates are used such as at the PFPF MOX fabrication plant in Japan. The neutron emission from plutonium and MOX has 3 primary source terms: 1) Spontaneous fission (SF) from the plutonium isotopes, 2) The (α,n) reactions from the plutonium alpha particle emission reacting with the oxygen and other impurities, and 3) Neutron multiplication (M) in the plutonium and uranium as a result ofmore » neutrons created by the first two sources. The spontaneous fission yield per gram is independent of thickness, whereas, the above sources 2) and 3) are very dependent on the thickness of the deposit. As the effective thickness of the deposit becomes thin relative to the alpha particle range, the (α,n) reactions and neutrons from multiplication (M) approach zero. In any glove-box, there will always be two primary modes of holdup accumulation, namely direct powder contact and non-contact by air dispersal. These regimes correspond to surfaces in the glove-box that have come into direct contact with the process MOX powder versus surface areas that have not had direct contact with the powder. The air dispersal of PuO{sub 2} particles has been studied for several decades by health physicists, because the primary health hazard of plutonium is breathing the airborne particles. The air dispersal mechanism results from the smaller particles in the top layer of powder that are lifted into the air by the electrostatic charge buildup from the alpha decay process, and the air convection carries the particles to new more distant locations. If there is open plutonium powder in a glove-box, the surfaces at more distant locations will become contaminated over time. The range of an alpha particle in a solid or powder is a function of the particle energy, the material density, and the atomic number A of the material. The average energy of a plutonium alpha particle is ∼5.2 MeV and the range in air is ∼37 mm. The range in other materials can be estimated via the Bragg-Kleenman equation. For plutonium, A is 94, and the typical density for a single particle is ∼11.5 g/cm{sup 3}, but for a powder, the density would be less because of the air packing fraction. The significance of the small diameter is that the range of the alpha particle is ∼50 μm for powder density 2.5 and significantly less for a single particle with density 11.5, so the thin deposit of separate small particles will have a greatly reduced (α,n) yield. The average alpha transit length to the surface in the isolated MOX particle would be < 2.5 μm; whereas, the range of the alpha particle is much longer. Thus, most of the alpha particles would escape from the MOX particle and be absorbed by the walls and air. The air dispersal particles will have access to a large surface area that includes the walls, whereas, the powder contact surface area will be orders of magnitude smaller. Thus, the vast majority of the glove-box surface area does not produce the full (α,n) reaction neutron yield, even from the O{sub 2} in the PuO{sub 2} as well as any impurity contamination such as H{sub 2}O. To obtain a more quantitative estimate of the neutron (α,n) yields as a function of holdup deposit thickness, we have used MCNPX calculations to estimate the absorption of alpha particles in PuO{sub 2} holdup deposits. The powder thickness was varied from 0.1 μm to 5000 μm and the alpha particle escape probability was calculated. As would be expected, as the thickness approaches zero, the escape probability approaches 1.0, and as the thickness gets much greater than the alpha particle range (∼50 μm), the escape probability becomes small. Typically, the neutron holdup calibration measurement are performed using sealed containers of thick MOX that has all 3 sources of neutrons [SF, (α,n), and M], and no significant impurities. Thus, the calibration counting rates need to include corrections for M and (α,n) yields that are different for the holdup compared with the calibration samples. If totals neutron counting is used for the holdup measurements, the variability of the (α,n) term needs to be considered.« less

Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Safeguard Science and Technology Group, NEN-1, MS E540, Los Alamos, NM, 87545 (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - IEEE, 3 Park Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016-5997 (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
22531325
Report Number(s):
ANIMMA-2015-IO-278
TRN: US16V0456102266
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: ANIMMA 2015: 4. International Conference on Advancements in Nuclear Instrumentation Measurement Methods and their Applications, Lisboa (Portugal), 20-24 Apr 2015; Other Information: Country of input: France
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; 73 NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIATION PHYSICS; ALPHA DECAY; ALPHA PARTICLES; COUNTING RATES; DECOMMISSIONING; GAMMA RADIATION; GLOVEBOXES; HEALTH HAZARDS; HOT CELLS; MEV RANGE; NEUTRON EMISSION; NEUTRONS; PARTICULATES; PLUTONIUM ISOTOPES; PLUTONIUM OXIDES; PLUTONIUM-ALPHA; SAFEGUARDS; SELF-SHIELDING; SPONTANEOUS FISSION; URANIUM

Citation Formats

Menlove, Howard, and Lafleur, Adrienne. Bi-Modal Model for Neutron Emissions from PuO{sub 2} and MOX Holdup. United States: N. p., 2015. Web.
Menlove, Howard, & Lafleur, Adrienne. Bi-Modal Model for Neutron Emissions from PuO{sub 2} and MOX Holdup. United States.
Menlove, Howard, and Lafleur, Adrienne. Wed . "Bi-Modal Model for Neutron Emissions from PuO{sub 2} and MOX Holdup". United States.
@article{osti_22531325,
title = {Bi-Modal Model for Neutron Emissions from PuO{sub 2} and MOX Holdup},
author = {Menlove, Howard and Lafleur, Adrienne},
abstractNote = {The measurement of uranium and plutonium holdup in plants during process activity and for decommissioning is important for nuclear safeguards and material control. The amount of plutonium and uranium holdup in glove-boxes, pipes, ducts, and other containers has been measured for several decades using both neutron and gamma-ray techniques. For the larger containers such as hot cells and glove-boxes that contain processing equipment, the gamma-ray techniques are limited by self-shielding in the sample as well as gamma absorption in the equipment and associated shielding. The neutron emission is more penetrating and has been used extensively to measure the holdup for the large facilities such as the MOX processing and fabrication facilities in Japan and Europe. In some case the totals neutron emission rates are used to determine the holdup mass and in other cases the coincidence rates are used such as at the PFPF MOX fabrication plant in Japan. The neutron emission from plutonium and MOX has 3 primary source terms: 1) Spontaneous fission (SF) from the plutonium isotopes, 2) The (α,n) reactions from the plutonium alpha particle emission reacting with the oxygen and other impurities, and 3) Neutron multiplication (M) in the plutonium and uranium as a result of neutrons created by the first two sources. The spontaneous fission yield per gram is independent of thickness, whereas, the above sources 2) and 3) are very dependent on the thickness of the deposit. As the effective thickness of the deposit becomes thin relative to the alpha particle range, the (α,n) reactions and neutrons from multiplication (M) approach zero. In any glove-box, there will always be two primary modes of holdup accumulation, namely direct powder contact and non-contact by air dispersal. These regimes correspond to surfaces in the glove-box that have come into direct contact with the process MOX powder versus surface areas that have not had direct contact with the powder. The air dispersal of PuO{sub 2} particles has been studied for several decades by health physicists, because the primary health hazard of plutonium is breathing the airborne particles. The air dispersal mechanism results from the smaller particles in the top layer of powder that are lifted into the air by the electrostatic charge buildup from the alpha decay process, and the air convection carries the particles to new more distant locations. If there is open plutonium powder in a glove-box, the surfaces at more distant locations will become contaminated over time. The range of an alpha particle in a solid or powder is a function of the particle energy, the material density, and the atomic number A of the material. The average energy of a plutonium alpha particle is ∼5.2 MeV and the range in air is ∼37 mm. The range in other materials can be estimated via the Bragg-Kleenman equation. For plutonium, A is 94, and the typical density for a single particle is ∼11.5 g/cm{sup 3}, but for a powder, the density would be less because of the air packing fraction. The significance of the small diameter is that the range of the alpha particle is ∼50 μm for powder density 2.5 and significantly less for a single particle with density 11.5, so the thin deposit of separate small particles will have a greatly reduced (α,n) yield. The average alpha transit length to the surface in the isolated MOX particle would be < 2.5 μm; whereas, the range of the alpha particle is much longer. Thus, most of the alpha particles would escape from the MOX particle and be absorbed by the walls and air. The air dispersal particles will have access to a large surface area that includes the walls, whereas, the powder contact surface area will be orders of magnitude smaller. Thus, the vast majority of the glove-box surface area does not produce the full (α,n) reaction neutron yield, even from the O{sub 2} in the PuO{sub 2} as well as any impurity contamination such as H{sub 2}O. To obtain a more quantitative estimate of the neutron (α,n) yields as a function of holdup deposit thickness, we have used MCNPX calculations to estimate the absorption of alpha particles in PuO{sub 2} holdup deposits. The powder thickness was varied from 0.1 μm to 5000 μm and the alpha particle escape probability was calculated. As would be expected, as the thickness approaches zero, the escape probability approaches 1.0, and as the thickness gets much greater than the alpha particle range (∼50 μm), the escape probability becomes small. Typically, the neutron holdup calibration measurement are performed using sealed containers of thick MOX that has all 3 sources of neutrons [SF, (α,n), and M], and no significant impurities. Thus, the calibration counting rates need to include corrections for M and (α,n) yields that are different for the holdup compared with the calibration samples. If totals neutron counting is used for the holdup measurements, the variability of the (α,n) term needs to be considered.},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/22531325}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {7}
}

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