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Title: Assess How Changes in Fuel Cycle Operation Impact Safeguards

Since the beginning of commercial nuclear power generation in the 1960s, the ability of researchers to understand and control the isotopic content of spent fuel has improved. It is therefore not surprising that both fuel assembly design and fuel assembly irradiation optimization have improved over the past 50+ years. It is anticipated that the burnup and isotopics of the spent fuel should exhibit less variation over the decades as reactor operators irradiate each assembly to the optimum amount. In contrast, older spent fuel is anticipated to vary more in burnup and resulting isotopics for a given initial enrichment. Modern fuel therefore should be more uniform in composition, and thus, measured safeguards results should be easier to interpret than results from older spent fuel. With spent fuel ponds filling up, interim and long-­term storage of spent fuel will need to be addressed. Additionally after long periods of storage, spent fuel is no longer self-­protecting and, as such, the IAEA will categorize it as more attractive; in approximately 20 years many of the assemblies from early commercial cores will no longer be considered self-­protecting. This study will assess how more recent changes in the reactor operation could impact the interpretation of safeguardsmore » measurements. The status quo for spent fuel assay in the safeguards context is that the overwhelming majority of spent fuel assemblies are not measured in a quantitative way except for those assemblies about to be loaded into a difficult or impossible to access location (dry storage or, in the future, a repository). In other words, when the assembly is still accessible to a state actor, or an insider, when it is cooling in a pool, the inspectorate does not have a measurement database that could assist them in re-­verifying the integrity of that assembly. The spent fuel safeguards regime would be strengthened if spent fuel assemblies were measured from discharge to loading into a difficult or impossible to access location. The primary driver for suggesting this shift in approach is the change in robotic technology and information technology in general. It should be possible, with minimal impact to the facility, to measure each assembly every time that it is moved in the pool, with the first measurements being made at discharge. The following conclusions were reached: The total neutron count rate can be accurately predicted at any future moment in time based upon the measured count rate at discharge, provided the initial enrichment and burnup of the assembly is known at discharge. It is expected that the total neutron count rate measured at discharge will be indicative of the initial enrichment and burnup of that assembly. If the automated robot were to focus on measuring the assemblies in the rack without moving them, the time available would increase immensely.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States). Nuclear Engineering and Nonproliferation Division
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1332212
Report Number(s):
LA-UR--16-28776
TRN: US1700718
DOE Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Office of Dismantlement and Transparency (NA-241)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
98 NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, SAFEGUARDS, AND PHYSICAL PROTECTION; 11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; SPENT FUELS; REACTOR OPERATION; ISOTOPE RATIO; SPENT FUEL STORAGE; IAEA SAFEGUARDS; IRRADIATION; FUEL ASSEMBLIES; FUEL CYCLE; BURNUP; ENRICHMENT; TIME DEPENDENCE; OPTIMIZATION; SIMULATION; ROBOTS; REMOTE HANDLING EQUIPMENT; RADIOMETRIC ANALYSIS