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M. Sternat, "Development of Technical Nuclear Forensics for Spent Research Reactor Fuel," Ph.D. Dissertation, Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (2012).


Pre-detonation technical nuclear forensics techniques for research reactor spent fuel were developed in a collaborative project with Savannah River National Laboratory. An inverse analysis method was employed to reconstruct reactor parameters from a spent fuel sample using results from a radiochemical analysis. In the inverse analysis, a reactor physics code is used as a forward model. Verification and validation of reactor physics codes was performed for usage in the inverse analysis consisting of uncertainty quantification in code output and comparison to documentation and spent fuel radiochemistry results.

An inverse analysis was developed to reconstruct the burnup, initial uranium isotopic compositions, and cooling time of a research reactor spent fuel sample. Convergence acceleration consisted of analytic calculations to predict burnup, initial U-235, and U-236 enrichments. A reactor physics code is used as a forward model with the analytic results as initial conditions in a numerical optimization algorithm. The results from this technical nuclear forensic analysis may be used with law enforcement, intelligence data, macroscopic and microscopic sample characteristics in a process called attribution to suggest or exclude possible sources of origin for a sample.

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Associated Project(s):

  • Uncertainty Quantification for Nuclear Forensic Model Computations

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