Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Determination of Plutonium Content in Spent Fuel with Nondestructive Assay


There are a variety of reasons for quantifying plutonium (Pu) in spent fuel such as independently verifying the Pu content declared by a regulated facility, making shipper/receiver mass declarations, and quantifying the input mass at a reprocessing facility. As part of the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative, NA-241 has recently funded a multilab/university collaboration to determine the elemental Pu mass in spent fuel assemblies. This research effort is anticipated to be a five year effort: the first part of which is a two years Monte Carlo modeling effort to integrate and down-select among 13 nondestructive assay (NDA) technologies, followed by one year for fabricating instruments and then two years for measuring spent fuel. This paper gives a brief overview of the approach being taken for the Monte Carlo research effort. In addition, preliminary results for the first NDA instrument studied in detail, delayed neutron detection, will be presented. In order to cost effectively and robustly model the performance of several NDA techniques, an "assembly library" was created that contains a diverse range of pressurized water reactor spent fuel assemblies (burnup, enrichment, cooling time) similar to that which exists in spent pools today and in the future, diversion scenarios that capture a range of possible rod removal options, spatial and isotopic detail needed to accurately quantify the capability of all the NDA techniques so as to enable integration. Integration is being designed into this study from the beginning since it is expected that the best performance will be obtained by combining a few NDA techniques. The performance of each instrument will be quantified for the full assembly library in three different media: air, water and borated water. In this paper the preliminary capability of delayed neutron detection will be quantified for the spent fuel library for all three media. The 13 NDA techniques being researched are the following: Delayed Gamma, Delayed Neutrons, Differential Die-Away, Differential Die-Away Self-Interrogation, Lead Slowing Down Spectrometer, Neutron Multiplicity, Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence, Passive Prompt Gamma, Passive Neutron Albedo Reactivity, Self-integration Neutron Resonance Densitometry, Total Neutron (Gross Neutron), X-Ray Fluorescence, 252Cf Interrogation with Prompt Neutron Detection.

Main Content
Current View