Criticality Evaluation of Plutonium-239 Moderated by High-Density Polyethylene in Stainless Steel and Aluminum Containers Suitable for Non-Exclusive Use Transport

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Research is conducted at the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Facility (JASPER) on the effects of high pressure and temperature environments on plutonium-239, in support of the stockpile stewardship program. Once an experiment has been completed, it is necessary to transport the end products for interim storage or final disposition. Federal shipping regulations for nonexclusive use transportation require that no more than 180 grams of fissile material are present in at least 360 kilograms of contiguous non-fissile material. To evaluate the conservatism of these regulatory requirements, a worst-case scenario of 180g {sup 239}Pu and a more realistic scenario of 100g ... continued below

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Watson, T T August 10, 2007.

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Research is conducted at the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Facility (JASPER) on the effects of high pressure and temperature environments on plutonium-239, in support of the stockpile stewardship program. Once an experiment has been completed, it is necessary to transport the end products for interim storage or final disposition. Federal shipping regulations for nonexclusive use transportation require that no more than 180 grams of fissile material are present in at least 360 kilograms of contiguous non-fissile material. To evaluate the conservatism of these regulatory requirements, a worst-case scenario of 180g {sup 239}Pu and a more realistic scenario of 100g {sup 239}Pu were modeled using one of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Monte Carlo transport codes known as COG 10. The geometry consisted of {sup 239}Pu spheres homogeneously mixed with high-density polyethylene surrounded by a cube of either stainless steel 304 or aluminum. An optimized geometry for both cube materials and hydrogen-to-fissile isotope (H/X) ratio were determined for a single unit. Infinite and finite 3D arrays of these optimized units were then simulated to determine if the systems would exceed criticality. Completion of these simulations showed that the optimal H/X ratio for the most reactive units ranged from 800 to 1600. A single unit of either cube type for either scenario would not reach criticality. An infinite array was determined to reach criticality only for the 180g case. The offsetting of spheres in their respective cubes was also considered and showed a considerable decrease in the number of close-packed units needed to reach criticality. These results call into question the current regulations for fissile material transport, which under certain circumstances may not be sufficient in preventing the development of a critical system. However, a conservative, theoretical approach was taken in all assumptions and such idealized configurations may not be likely to be encountered in actual packaging, transportation, and storage configurations. Modeling of realistic, as-built configurations is beyond the scope of this study.

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PDF-file: 19 pages; size: 0.2 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-233599
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/924612 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 924612
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc894618

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  • August 10, 2007

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Nov. 23, 2016, 12:08 p.m.

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Watson, T T. Criticality Evaluation of Plutonium-239 Moderated by High-Density Polyethylene in Stainless Steel and Aluminum Containers Suitable for Non-Exclusive Use Transport, report, August 10, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894618/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.