B. Goddard, W.S. Charlton, and P. Peerani, “First Principal Active Neutron Coincidence Counting Measurements of Uranium Oxide”, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 739, 1 (2014).
Uranium is present in most nuclear fuel cycle facilities ranging from uranium mines, enrichment plants, fuel fabrication facilities, nuclear reactors, and reprocessing plants. The isotopic, chemical, and geometric composition of uranium can vary significantly between these facilities, depending on the application and type of facility. Examples of this variation are: enrichments varying from depleted (~0.2 wt% 235U) to high enriched (>20 wt% 235U); compositions consisting of U3O8, UO2, UF6, metallic, and ceramic forms; geometries ranging from plates, cans, and rods; and masses which can range from a 500 kg fuel assembly down to a few grams fuel pellet. Since 235U is a fissile material, it is routinely safeguarded in these facilities. Current techniques for quantifying the 235U mass in a sample include neutron coincidence counting. One of the main disadvantages of this technique is that it requires a known standard of representative geometry and composition for calibration, which opens up a pathway for potential erroneous declarations by the State and reduces the effectiveness of safeguards. In order to address this weakness, the authors have developed a neutron coincidence counting technique which uses the first principle point-model developed by Boehnel instead of the “known standard” method. This technique was primarily tested through simulations of 1000 g U3O8 samples using the Monte Carlo N-Particle eXtended (MCNPX) code. The results of these simulations showed good agreement between the simulated and exact 235U sample masses.