S. Saavedra, W. Charlton, A. Solodov, M. Ehinger, “Using NDA Techniques to Improve Safeguards Metrics on Burnup Quantification and Plutonium Content in LWR SNF”, 51st Annual Meeting for the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, Baltimore, Maryland, July 11-15, 2010.
Globally, there exists a long history in reprocessing in evaluation of the shipper/receiver difference (SRD) on spent nuclearfuel (SNF) received and processed. Typically, the declared shipper’s values for uranium and plutonium in SNF (based on calculations involving the initial manufacturer’s data and reactor operating history) are used as the input quantities to the head-end process of the facility. Problems have been encountered when comparing these values with measured results of the input accountability tank contents. A typical comparison yields a systematic bias indicated as a ‘loss’ of 5 – 7 percent of the plutonium (Pu) and approximately 1 percent for the uranium (U). Studies suggest that such deviation can be attributed to the non-linear nature of the axial burnup values of the SNF. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Texas A&M University are co-investigating the development of a new method, via Nondestructive Assay (NDA) techniques, to improve the accuracy in burnup and Pu content quantification. Two major components have been identified to achieve this objective. The first component calculates a measurement-based burnup profile along the axis of a fuel rod. Gamma-ray data is collected at numerous locations along the axis of the fuel rod using a High Purity Germanium (HPGe) detector designed for a wide range of gamma-ray energies. Using two fission products, 137Cs and 134Cs, the burnup is calculated at each measurement location and a profile created along the axis of the rod based on the individual measurement locations. The second component measures the U/Pu ratio using an HPGe detector configured for relatively low-energy gamma-rays including xrays. Fluorescence x-rays from U and Pu are measured and compared to the U/Pu ratio determined from a destructive analysis of the sample. This will be used to establish a relationship between the measured and actual values. This relationship will be combined with the burnup analysis results to establish a relationship between fission product activity and Pu content. It is anticipated that this new method will allow receiving facilities to make a limited number of NDA, gamma-ray, measurements to confirm the shipper declared values for burnup and Pu content thereby improving the SRD.