Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Feasibility of Enrichment Measurements with a Pixelated CdTe HEXITEC Detector: A Comparison of Methods

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  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for verifying the mass of elemental uranium in various forms (powders, pellets, scrap) as part of safeguards inspections at nuclear fuel fabrication facilities in support of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Current methods require in-field dissolution chemistry, which is time consuming and imposes operational challenges. A rapid, nondestructive assay method would streamline inspections. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is developing a prototype spectral X-ray radiography (SpecX) nondestructive assay system for noninvasive material mass quantification of uranium-bearing powders. The current method used by the IAEA also provides the enrichment of the uranium-bearing powders while the SpecX system does not. The presented research explores the ability to measure $^{235}$U enrichment using the SpecX system in order to meet the full capabilities of the current methodology. This research compares various methods of enrichment calculations utilizing spectroscopy and supported by Monte Carlo simulations. Out of the tested methodologies, the Ratio method has shown promise for accurate enrichment calculations using the HEXITEC system. Future research will aim to confirm the accuracy of the method.
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  • This research was supported by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control (NPAC) within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract DE-AC05-76RL01830. DM Kasparek is supported by the Safeguards Internship Program sponsored by the NNSA’s Office of International Nuclear Safeguards PNNL-28747.
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