Aging phenomenon in metallic plutonium

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Today, as with weapons science issues, the monitoring of plutonium aging becomes an important issue for surveillance. The reasons for this are many-fold. First, and perhaps most important, plutonium is radioactive, primarily through the process of alpha decay. This process has many consequences. One pragmatic one is that the alpha particles ejected near the surface can be used with an ionization gauge-type detector to assess the presence of fine plutonium particulates, allowing plutonium handlers and facilities to detect the presence of contamination in virtual real time. But this alpha decay has other consequences for weapon integrity which are not well ... continued below

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5 p.

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Stevens, M.F. & Martz, J.C. December 31, 1998.

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Description

Today, as with weapons science issues, the monitoring of plutonium aging becomes an important issue for surveillance. The reasons for this are many-fold. First, and perhaps most important, plutonium is radioactive, primarily through the process of alpha decay. This process has many consequences. One pragmatic one is that the alpha particles ejected near the surface can be used with an ionization gauge-type detector to assess the presence of fine plutonium particulates, allowing plutonium handlers and facilities to detect the presence of contamination in virtual real time. But this alpha decay has other consequences for weapon integrity which are not well known. The same surface alpha particles which allow it`s detection, can also cause a variety of problems with materials which may be found in contact with plutonium over extended time periods. However, when this alpha emission occurs within the bulk of the plutonium metal, it is essentially trapped. Within the metal atom lattice, it acquires valence electrons and becomes a helium atom. At the same time that these helium atoms accumulate within the lattice, atomic displacements and damage to the plutonium lattice occurs due to collisions with the energetic uranium and alpha particles. At the current time, the authors have insufficient data to either assess or postulate how or when such defect structures may cause a deleterious change in the plutonium or effect other indirect changes. The Laboratory is currently initiating a variety of enhanced surveillance technologies to asses such effects. Results of these studies to understand aging phenomena in plutonium will be reviewed.

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5 p.

Notes

OSTI as DE99001787

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  • American Nuclear Society winter meeting, Washington, DC (United States), 15-19 Nov 1998

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  • Other: DE99001787
  • Report No.: LA-UR--98-2964
  • Report No.: CONF-981106--
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 319732
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc678957

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • December 31, 1998

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  • July 25, 2015, 2:20 a.m.

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  • May 20, 2016, 12:59 p.m.

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Stevens, M.F. & Martz, J.C. Aging phenomenon in metallic plutonium, article, December 31, 1998; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc678957/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.