Development of Neutron Energy Spectral Signatures for Passive Monitoring of Spent Nuclear Fuels in Dry Cask Storage
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 USA
Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545
Published online: 10 January 2018
Demand for spent nuclear fuel dry casks as an interim storage solution has increased globally and the IAEA has expressed a need for robust safeguards and verification technologies for ensuring the continuity of knowledge and the integrity of radioactive materials inside spent fuel casks. Existing research has been focusing on “fingerprinting” casks based on count rate statistics to represent radiation emission signatures. The current research aims to expand to include neutron energy spectral information as part of the fuel characteristics. First, spent fuel composition data are taken from the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative Spent Fuel Libraries, representative for Westinghouse 17ˣ17 PWR assemblies. The ORIGEN-S code then calculates the spontaneous fission and (α,n) emissions for individual fuel rods, followed by detailed MCNP simulations of neutrons transported through the fuel assemblies. A comprehensive database of neutron energy spectral profiles is to be constructed, with different enrichment, burn-up, and cooling time conditions. The end goal is to utilize the computational spent fuel library, predictive algorithm, and a pressurized 4He scintillator to verify the spent fuel assemblies inside a cask. This work identifies neutron spectral signatures that correlate with the cooling time of spent fuel. Both the total and relative contributions from spontaneous fission and (α,n) change noticeably with respect to cooling time, due to the relatively short half-life (18 years) of the major neutron source 244Cm. Identification of this and other neutron spectral signatures allows the characterization of spent nuclear fuels in dry cask storage.
Key words: spent fuel / safeguards / neutron measurement
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2018
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).