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Title: An assessment of antineutrino detection as a tool for monitoring nuclear explosions

Abstract

The antineutrino is the only real-time nuclear signature from a fission explosion that propagates great distances through air, water, and ground. The size and sensitivity of antineutrino detectors has increased dramatically in the last decade, and will continue to do so in the next, thanks in part to the renewed interest in neutrino physics brought on by the recent discovery that neutrinos may have mass. The evolution of antineutrino detectors, and the evident interest of the signature as a means for monitoring nuclear tests motivates this review of the capabilities of existing and possible future detectors as test ban verification tools. The authors find that existing liquid scintillator ionization detectors, operating a few tens of meters below the Earth's surface and containing a few thousand tons of active material, could be used to monitor an area of a few square kilometers for nuclear explosions at the 1 kt level. Purified water Cerenkov detectors of sizes comparable to existing detectors (50,000 m{sup 3}) could be used to detect 1 kt explosions at distances of a few tens of kilometers. If neutron-absorbing dopants such as sodium chloride or gadolinium could be added to purified water, the resulting background reduction would allow extensionmore » of the range for sensitivity to a pulse of 10 antineutrino events from a 1 kt explosion out to approximately 1000 km. Beyond 1000 km, backgrounds from the world's nuclear reactors would become prohibitively large. The engineering hurdles for such detectors would be formidable. The size of a doped detector operating at the 100 km range, suitable for cooperative monitoring of existing nuclear test sites, is about 60 times that of the largest existing water detector, and would require a factor of several dozen more photomultiplier tubes than what is now used in large scale physics experiments. At a price per phototube of $1000, capital costs would amount to several billions of dollars, even for a detector at this modest range. This cost is perhaps the key obstacle to construction, along with excavation requirements and the requirement of high radiopurity for large volumes of water and dopant. Detectors sensitive to a 1 kt explosion at a few kilometer distance would still cost tens of millions of dollars, and are unlikely to be useful except in the context of confidence-building measures.« less

Authors:
; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Labs., Albuquerque, NM (US); Sandia National Labs., Livermore, CA (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
US Department of Energy (US)
OSTI Identifier:
751008
Report Number(s):
SAND99-8497
TRN: AH200020%%84
DOE Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Other Information: PBD: 1 Jun 1999
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
45 MILITARY TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONRY, AND NATIONAL DEFENSE; 98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; NUCLEAR EXPLOSION DETECTION; ANTINEUTRINOS; NEUTRINO DETECTION; RADIATION DETECTORS; CTBT; VERIFICATION; SENSITIVITY

Citation Formats

Bernstein, Adam, West, Todd, and Gupta, Vipin. An assessment of antineutrino detection as a tool for monitoring nuclear explosions. United States: N. p., 1999. Web. doi:10.2172/751008.
Bernstein, Adam, West, Todd, & Gupta, Vipin. An assessment of antineutrino detection as a tool for monitoring nuclear explosions. United States. doi:10.2172/751008.
Bernstein, Adam, West, Todd, and Gupta, Vipin. Tue . "An assessment of antineutrino detection as a tool for monitoring nuclear explosions". United States. doi:10.2172/751008. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/751008.
@article{osti_751008,
title = {An assessment of antineutrino detection as a tool for monitoring nuclear explosions},
author = {Bernstein, Adam and West, Todd and Gupta, Vipin},
abstractNote = {The antineutrino is the only real-time nuclear signature from a fission explosion that propagates great distances through air, water, and ground. The size and sensitivity of antineutrino detectors has increased dramatically in the last decade, and will continue to do so in the next, thanks in part to the renewed interest in neutrino physics brought on by the recent discovery that neutrinos may have mass. The evolution of antineutrino detectors, and the evident interest of the signature as a means for monitoring nuclear tests motivates this review of the capabilities of existing and possible future detectors as test ban verification tools. The authors find that existing liquid scintillator ionization detectors, operating a few tens of meters below the Earth's surface and containing a few thousand tons of active material, could be used to monitor an area of a few square kilometers for nuclear explosions at the 1 kt level. Purified water Cerenkov detectors of sizes comparable to existing detectors (50,000 m{sup 3}) could be used to detect 1 kt explosions at distances of a few tens of kilometers. If neutron-absorbing dopants such as sodium chloride or gadolinium could be added to purified water, the resulting background reduction would allow extension of the range for sensitivity to a pulse of 10 antineutrino events from a 1 kt explosion out to approximately 1000 km. Beyond 1000 km, backgrounds from the world's nuclear reactors would become prohibitively large. The engineering hurdles for such detectors would be formidable. The size of a doped detector operating at the 100 km range, suitable for cooperative monitoring of existing nuclear test sites, is about 60 times that of the largest existing water detector, and would require a factor of several dozen more photomultiplier tubes than what is now used in large scale physics experiments. At a price per phototube of $1000, capital costs would amount to several billions of dollars, even for a detector at this modest range. This cost is perhaps the key obstacle to construction, along with excavation requirements and the requirement of high radiopurity for large volumes of water and dopant. Detectors sensitive to a 1 kt explosion at a few kilometer distance would still cost tens of millions of dollars, and are unlikely to be useful except in the context of confidence-building measures.},
doi = {10.2172/751008},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {1999},
month = {6}
}