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Plutonium Fingerprinting for Forensics (PuFF) Project

This project will use computational and experimental methods to determine whether it is possible to reliably predict and measure a unique intrinsic physical signature in weapons-grade plutonium (Pu) produced in reactors of foreign nuclear fuel cycles.  The particular fuel types of interest are fast breeder reactor (FBR) depleted uranium (U) blankets and CANDU-type reactor natural U fuel.  When the developmental FBRs begin operating in the near future, it would be useful for the DNDO's global nuclear detection architecture to understand the details of a potentially unique "fingerprint" associated with Pu produced in depleted U in the FBR blankets. It would also be helpful to have a similar understanding of unique identifying characteristics of Pu generated in CANDU power reactors when the fuel is ejected with lower than standard burnup.  Detailed understanding of these unique characteristics, such as the Pu isotope content, signatures of U, fission product, and trace elemental residues after chemical processing of Pu separation would aid nuclear forensics activities aimed at source attribution in the case of interdicted smuggled Pu (pre-detonation material) as well as to some extent for post-detonation analyses.

This project was chosen by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2011 to receive an award under the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) Academic Research Initiative.  It was proposed by NSSPI faculty member, Dr. Sunil Chirayath, along with Dr. David Boyle, NSSPI Deputy Director, and Dr. Charles M. Folden, III, of the TAMU Cyclotron Institute. The award in the amount of $378,464 was for the first year of a multi-year project, and the proposal received the NSF's top recommendation ranking.

Publications:

  1. P. Mendoza, S.S. Chirayath, and C.M. Folden, "Fission Product Decontamination Factors for Plutonium Separated by PUREX from Low-Burnup, Fast-Neutron Irradiated Depleted UO2," Applied Radiation and Isotopes 118 (2016). See Document
  2. S. Chirayath and J. Osborn, "Assessment of Inverse Techniques Used in Forensics Attribution Analysis of Trace Nuclide Ratios in Weapons-Grade Plutonium," 57th Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), Atlanta, Georgia, 24-28 July 2016.
  3. J.M. Osborn and S.S. Chirayath, "Assessment of Inverse Techniques Used in Forensics Attribution Analysis of Trace Nuclide Ratios in Weapons-Grade Plutonium," 9th Annual DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Atlanta, GA, USA, July 11-14, 2016.
  4. M.W. Swinney, C.M. Folden III, R.J. Ellis, and S.S. Chirayath, "Experimental and Computational Forensics Characterization of Weapons-grade Plutonium Produced in a Fast Reactor Neutron Environment," Nuclear Technology 197:1 (2017). See Document
  5. M.W. Swinney et al., "Experimental and computational assessment of nuclide ratios in weapons-grade plutonium produced in a fast neutron environment for nuclear forensics analysis," 8th Annual DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Dallas, TX, USA, July 7-9, 2015.
  6. S.S. Chirayath, C.M. Folden, III, and D.R. Boyle, "Nuclear forensics analysis of separated plutonium of foreign fuel cycles (NFASP) project: assessment of unique trace elements and isotope ratios in separated plutonium from low burnup nuclear fuel," Proceedings of the 8th DNDO-ARI Grantees Conference, University of Texas, Dallas, TX, USA, July 7-9, (2015).
  7. J.M. Osborn et al., "Trace fission product ratios for nuclear forensics attribution of weapons-grade plutonium separate from fuel irradiated in thermal and fast reactor types," 8th Annual DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Dallas, TX, USA, July 7-9, 2015.
  8. T.K. Bhardwaj, P. Mendoza, R. Du, M. Bencomo, J. Allred, M. Swinney, C. Folden, S.S. Chirayath, "Determination of decontamination factor for various radioisotopes during the PUREX process of irradiated DUO2," 249th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition, Denver, CO, USA, March 22-26, 2015.
  9. S.S. Chirayath, J.M. Osborn, and T.M. Coles, "Trace Fission Product Ratios for Nuclear Forensics Attribution of Weapons-grade Plutonium from Fast and Thermal Reactors," Journal of Science & Global Security 23:1 (2015). See Document
  10. M.W. Swinney and S.S. Chirayath, "Comparison of FBR and HFIR Monte-Carlo Simulations with Validation from Gamma Spectroscopy in Support of the NFASP Project," 2014 ANS Winter Meeting, Annaheim, CA, 9-13 November 2014
  11. T.K. Bhardwaj, J. Allred, K. Jones, P. Mendoza, R. Du, C. Folden, S.S. Chirayath, "Nuclear forensics program at Texas A&M University," 248th American Chemical Society National Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, August 10-14, 2014.
  12. J.M. Osborn, T.M. Coles, and S.S. Chirayath, "Trace Fission Product Ratios for Nuclear Forensics Attribution of Weapons-Grade Plutonium Separated from Fuel Irradiated in Thermal and Fast Reactor Types," 55th Annual Meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, Atlanta, Georgia, 20-14 July 2014.
  13. M.W. Swinney and S.S. Chirayath, "Comparison of FBR and HFIR monte-carlo simulations with validation from gamma spectroscopy in support of the the NFASP project," 7th Annual NSF-DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Leesburg, VA, USA, June 24-26, 2014.
  14. S.S. Chirayath, "Nuclear forensics analysis of separated plutonium of foreign fuel cycles (NFASP) project: assessment of unique trace elements and isotope ratios in separated plutonium from low burnup nuclear fuel," 7th Annual NSF-DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Leesburg, VA, USA, June 24-26, 2014.
  15. J.M. Osborn et al., "Trace fission product ratios for nuclear forensics attribution of weapons-grade plutonium separate from fuel irradiated in thermal and fast reactor types," 7th Annual NSF-DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Leesburg, VA, USA, June 24-26, 2014.
  16. S.S. Chirayath, D.R. Boyle, C.M. Folden III, "Experimental and Computational Assessment of Unique Trace Elements and Isotopes Ratios in Plutonium from Depleted Uranium Irradiated in Fast Reactor Blankets," 7th DNDO-ARI Grantees Conference, Leesburg, VA, USA, June 2014.
  17. J.M. Osborn et al., "Isotopic analysis of fast breeder reactor core to support the plutonium fingerprinting for forensics (PuFF) project," 6th Annual NSF-DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Lansdowne, VA, USA, July 30-31 & August 1, 2013.
  18. T.M. Coles et al., "Nuclear forensics signature analysis of thermal reactor produced weapons-grade plutonium," 6th Annual NSF-DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Lansdowne, VA, USA, July 30-31 & August 1, 2013.
  19. S.S. Chirayath et al., "Plutonium fingerprinting for forensics (PuFF) project: assessment of unique trace elements and isotope ratios in separate plutonium from low burnup nuclear fuel," 6th Annual NSF-DNDO Academic Research Initiative (ARI) Grantees Review Meeting, Lansdowne, VA, USA, July 30-31 & August 1, 2013.
  20. J.M. Osborn, S.S. Chirayath, and W.S. Charlton, "Neutronics Analysis of Fast Breeder Reactor Core to Support the Plutonium Fingerprinting for Forensics (PuFF) Project," INMM 54th Annual Meeting, 14-18 July 2013, Palm Desert, California, USA.
  21. T.M. Coles, S.S. Chirayath, and W.S. Charlton, "Nuclear Forensics Signature Analysis of Thermal Reactor Produced Weapons-grade Plutonium," INMM 54th Annual Meeting, 14-18 July 2013, Palm Desert, California, USA.
  22. J.M. Osborn, T.M. Coles, A.R. Twaddle, S.S. Chirayath, W.S. Charlton, "Nuclear forensics signature analysis of fast and thermal reactor produced weapons-grade plutonium," 245th American Chemical Society National Meeting, New Orleans, LA, USA, April 7-11, 2013.
  23. J.M. Osborn, T.M. Coles, AR. Twaddle, and S.S. Chirayath, "Neutronics Analysis of Fast Breeder Reactor Core to Support the Plutonium Fingerprinting for Forensics (PuFF) Project," 5th Annual DNDO-NSF ARI Grantees Conference, Leesburg, Virginia, 23-25 July 2012.

 

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