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.
Nuclear proliferation is a growing concern and due to this increasing threat, nuclear forensics capabilities are being developed at Texas A&M University with sponsorship from the Department of Homeland Security. We are currently using computational and experimental methods to determine the isotopic characteristics of weapons-grade plutonium that could be produced in foreign nuclear reactors.
The uranium samples for this project were irradiated at the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After chemical processing of the irradiated uranium samples, the isotopic concentrations (and ratios) of selected fission products and actinides were measured and the burnup of nuclear material was determined. Our objective was to determine the differences in fission products and actinides characteristics for uranium samples irradiated in different type of nuclear reactors (thermal and fast reactors). This paper will present the experimental part of this research. These operations were performed inside a glove box to analyze trace elements and isotopes present in the each and every step of industrial PUREX chemical reprocess by alpha and gamma spectroscopy and other analytical tools. The weapon grade plutonium separated from other actinides and fission products such as Cs, Ce and Sm was determined by ICP-MS to match with the computational results.