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Nuclear Safeguards Education Portal

Destructive analysis (DA)

Determination of nuclear material content and, if required, of the isotopic composition of chemical elements present in the sample. Destructive analysis normally involves destruction of the physical form of the sample. In the context of IAEA safeguards, determination of the nuclear material content of an item sampled usually involves:

  • Measurement of the mass of the sample
  • The taking of a representative sample
  • Sample conditioning (if necessary) prior to shipment to the Safeguards Analytical Laboratory for analysis
  • Processing of the sample to the chemical state required for the analysis (e.g. dissolution in nitric acid)
  • Determination of the concentration of the nuclear material (U, Pu, Th) present in the sample (i.e. elemental analysis) using Chemical titration, controlled potential coulometry, gravimetric analysis, IDMS, or K-edge densitometry
  • Determination of the isotopic abundance ratios of U or Pu isotopes (i.e., isotopic analysis) using mass spectrometry, gas mass spectrometry, TIMS, or alpha spectrometry