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Title: Electrochemically Modulated Separation for Plutonium Safeguards

Accurate and timely analysis of plutonium in spent nuclear fuel is critical in nuclear safeguards for detection of both protracted and rapid plutonium diversions. Gamma spectroscopy is a viable method for accurate and timely measurements of plutonium provided that the plutonium is well separated from the interfering fission and activation products present in spent nuclear fuel. Electrochemically modulated separation (EMS) is a method that has been used successfully to isolate picogram amounts of Pu from nitric acid matrices. With EMS, Pu adsorption may be turned "on" and "off" depending on the applied voltage, allowing for collection and stripping of Pu without the addition of chemical reagents. In this work, we have scaled up the EMS process to isolate microgram quantities of Pu from matrices encountered in spent nuclear fuel during reprocessing. Several challenges have been addressed including surface area limitations, radiolysis effects, electrochemical cell performance stability, and chemical interferences. After these challenges were resolved, 6 µg Pu was deposited in the electrochemical cell with approximately an 800-fold reduction of fission and activation product levels from a spent nuclear fuel sample. Modeling showed that these levels of Pu collection and interference reduction may not be sufficient for Pu detection by gammamore » spectroscopy. The main remaining challenges are to achieve a more complete Pu isolation and to deposit larger quantities of Pu for successful gamma analysis of Pu. If gamma analyses of Pu are successful, EMS will allow for accurate and timely on-site analysis for enhanced Pu safeguards.« less
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Conference: Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, July 20-24, 2013, Atlanta, Georgia, 4:2649-2658
Institute of Nuclear Materials Managment, Deerfield, IL, United States(US).
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States