ELECTRONICS UPGRADE TO THE SAVANNAH RIVER NATIONAL LABORATORY COULOMETER FOR PLUTONIUM AND NEPTUNIUM ASSAY Page: 2 of 11
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SRNL Coulometer Electronics Upgrade
Electronics Upgrade to the Savannah River National Laboratory Coulometer for Plutonium and
Joseph V. Cordaro, George E. Reeves and Andrew J. Kruzner
Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC and
Michael K. Holland and Sheldon T. Nichols,
Analytical Laboratories, Savannah River Site, Aiken SC
Implementing plutonium Material Control and Accountability (MC&A), safeguards measurements, material
characterization, and standards certification requires analytical instrumentation that is reliably calibrated and
traceable to the international measurement system with minimal measurement uncertainty and easy to operate.
Savannah River Site (SRS) has used controlled-potential coulometric assay for select key accountability
measurements, external exchange program measurements, and secondary standards characterization. These
applications required the highest plutonium assay reliability available at the SRS Analytical Laboratory. The
present vintage automated controlled-potential coulometer used at the SRS was designed by the authors and
fabricated at the Savannah River National Laboratory's Research and Development Engineering organization in
the early 90's. The 90's vintage system used custom electronics installed in NIM modules with switches and
dials. Many of the original components are now obsolete.
To ensure long term viability of the SRS and external customer systems, a complete electronics and data
acquisition system upgrade has been completed. All electronics have been combined on a large multilayer pc
board with individual isolated ground and power planes. All switches, knobs and batteries have been eliminated
in favor of floating high resolution digital to analog converters. The HT Basic software used to control the
coulometer has been updated with new features and drivers to accommodate the electronics and data acquisition
hardware. The details of the electronics and software upgrades will be presented.
The Savannah River Site (SRS) has been building Controlled-Potential Coulometers for 25 years. The work has
been completed by a team from SRNL and the site's Analytical Laboratories. The SRS system is based on work
originally completed at New Brunswick Laboratory. In 1984 with the arrival of Michael Holland, one of the key
developers at NBL to SRS, work began on coulometry upgrades. Throughout this period, the system electronics,
computer hardware, software and cell design have undergone significant improvements. Between 1985 and 1995,
two systems were built for the SRS Analytical Laboratories, one system for Rocky Flats, and one system for the
IAEA. The latest upgrade of the coulometer electronics was in 1992. This system consisted of two potentiostats,
one for oxidation and one for reduction, a digital integrator module, a four channel counter and an automation
module. The modules were built in the standard NIM Module format, using the NIM backplane for DC buses and
interconnection between modules. Several coax cables were also used for interconnection to the modules and the
data acquisition system (DAS). This paper will focus on the electronics and data acquisition upgrades completed
for the new IAEA system delivered in May 2011. As of the writing of this paper, two additional new systems
have been built and are undergoing testing. One system is being built for the Los Alamos National Laboratory
(LANL) and one system for the SRS Analytical Laboratory.
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Cordaro, J.; Holland, M.; Reeves, G.; Nichols, S. & Kruzner, A. ELECTRONICS UPGRADE TO THE SAVANNAH RIVER NATIONAL LABORATORY COULOMETER FOR PLUTONIUM AND NEPTUNIUM ASSAY, article, July 8, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc840511/m1/2/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.