Neutron Resonance Transmission Analysis (NRTA): Initial Studies of a Method for Assaying Plutonium in Spent Fuel

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Neutron Resonance Transmission Analysis (NRTA) is an analytical technique that uses neutrons to assay the isotopic content of bulk materials. The technique uses a pulsed accelerator to produce an intense, short pulse of neutrons in a time-of-flight configuration. These neutrons, traveling at different speeds according to their energy, can be used to interrogate a spent fuel (SF) assembly to determine its plutonium content. Neutron transmission through the assembly is monitored as a function of neutron energy (time after the pulse), similar to the way neutron cross-section data is often collected. The transmitted neutron intensity is recorded as a function of ... continued below

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Chichester, David L. & Sterbentz, James W. May 1, 2011.

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Neutron Resonance Transmission Analysis (NRTA) is an analytical technique that uses neutrons to assay the isotopic content of bulk materials. The technique uses a pulsed accelerator to produce an intense, short pulse of neutrons in a time-of-flight configuration. These neutrons, traveling at different speeds according to their energy, can be used to interrogate a spent fuel (SF) assembly to determine its plutonium content. Neutron transmission through the assembly is monitored as a function of neutron energy (time after the pulse), similar to the way neutron cross-section data is often collected. The transmitted neutron intensity is recorded as a function of time, with faster (higher-energy) neutrons arriving first and slower (lower-energy) neutrons arriving later. The low-energy elastic scattering and absorption resonances of plutonium and other isotopes modulate the transmitted neutron spectrum. Plutonium content in SF can be determined by analyzing this attenuation. Work is currently underway at Idaho National Laboratory, as a part of United States Department of Energy's Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI), to investigate the NRTA technique and to assess its feasibility for quantifying the plutonium content in SF and for determining the diversion of SF pins from assemblies. Preliminary results indicate that NRTA has great potential for being able to assay intact SF assemblies. Operating in the 1-40 eV range, it can identify four plutonium isotopes (239, 240, 241, & 242Pu), three uranium isotopes (235, 236, & 238U), and six resonant fission products (99Tc, 103Rh, 131Xe, 133Cs, 145Nd, and 152Sm). It can determine the areal density or mass of these isotopes in single- or multiple-pin integral transmission scans. Further, multiple observables exist to allow the detection of material diversion (pin defects) including fast-neutron and x-ray radiography, gross-transmission neutron counting, plutonium resonance absorption analysis, and fission-product resonance absorption analysis. Initial benchmark modeling has shown excellent agreement with previously published experimental data for measurements of individual SF pins where plutonium assays were experimentally demonstrated to have a precision of better than 3%.

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  • 33rd ESARDA ANNUAL MEETING,Budapest, Hungary,05/16/2011,05/20/2011

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-10-20684
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1023495
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc836505

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  • May 1, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • June 17, 2016, 10:26 p.m.

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Chichester, David L. & Sterbentz, James W. Neutron Resonance Transmission Analysis (NRTA): Initial Studies of a Method for Assaying Plutonium in Spent Fuel, article, May 1, 2011; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc836505/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.