A comparison of the performance of compact neutrino detector designs for nuclear reactor safeguards and monitoring. Page: 4 of 14
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A Comparison of the Performance of Compact Neutrino Detector Designs
for Nuclear Reactor Safeguards and Monitoring
R. W. McKeown*
Physics Dept., Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104
D. E. Reynat
HEP Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 9700 S. Cass Ave., Argonne, IL 60439
(Dated: October 26, 2006)
There has been an increasing interest in the monitoring of nuclear fuel for power reactors by
detecting the anti-neutrinos produced during operation. Small liquid scintillator detectors have
already demonstrated sensitivity to operational power levels, but more sensitive monitoring requires
improvements in the efficiency and uniformity of these detectors. In this work, we use a montecarlo
simulation to investigate the detector performance of four different detector configurations. Based
on the analysis of neutron detection efficiency and positron energy response, we find that the optimal
detector design will depend on the goals and restrictions of the specific installation or application.
We have attempted to present the relevant information so that future detector development can
proceed in a profitable direction.
Keywords: neutrino, reactor neutrino, neutrino detector design, nuclear safeguards, reactor monitoring
Recently, there has been an increasing inter-
est in the monitoring and safeguarding of nuclear
power reactors. Over the last few years, a group
from Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories
has been demonstrating the feasibility of a small
simple detector to monitor the anti-neutrino pro-
duction during the operation of a nuclear power
reactor located in San Onofre, California. By
using the anti-neutrinos which are produced by the
uranium and plutonium fuel itself during the fis-
sion process, the reactor fuel can be continuously
monitored in a non-invasive way. The ability to
monitor the nuclear fuel composition in real-time
has advantages for both limiting the proliferation
of nuclear material as well as increasing the oper-
ational efficiency of power generation[2, 3].
The current experience at San Onofre has
demonstrated that a small neutrino detector lo-
cated within 25 m of the reactor core is easily sen-
sitive to the power level at which the nuclear re-
actor is being operated. However, more sensitive
tests to determine the fuel burn-up and fuel com-
position, while showing promising results, have
shown the limitations of the detector design.
This work is an attempt to evaluate several pos-
sible directions for improved compact neutrino de-
tector designs using the latest simulations avail-
able to the reactor neutrino community. The de-
*Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org
tElectronic address: reynaeanl.gov
tectors are based on the conventional technology of
liquid scintillator and photomultiplier tubes. The
anti-neutrino event signature is the inverse beta-
decay process: ve + p -> e+ + n. This yields
a coincident event signature, from the prompt
positron annihilation and the delayed neutron cap-
ture, which is relatively free from background con-
tamination. The use of a liquid scintillator that
is doped with gadolinium improves the signal to
background further by reducing the neutron cap-
ture time and increasing the energy which that
The simulations were based on the open-source
libraries of the Generic Liquid-scintillator
anti-neutrino detector Geant4 simulation
(GLG4sim) [4, 5] which have been extensively used
in the KamLAND experiment . In addition, we
have made use of several of the improvements that
have been developed within the Double Chooz
collaboration . Specifically, the development
of high quality Gd doped liquid scintillator has
been carefully studied and implemented within
the simulation, as well as detailed improvements
in material properties and PMT performance.
For this study, it was considered that there are
two major features of the detector response which
will be important for reactor monitoring. The
first concerns the efficiency for detecting events
in which the neutron is captured on Gd within
the fiducial volume of the detector. The overall
acceptance for anti-neutrino events is a product
of positron and neutron identifications. However,
the positron detection efficiency is largely a func-
tion of the environmental conditions and can more
directly be improved by shielding the detector to
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Reyna, D. E.; McKeown, R. W.; Physics, High Energy & Univ., Drexel. A comparison of the performance of compact neutrino detector designs for nuclear reactor safeguards and monitoring., report, October 27, 2006; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc900185/m1/4/: accessed June 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.