Presentation Title

Investigation of Potential Protactinium Safeguards Vulnerabilities for Thorium Fuel Cycles

Presentation Type

Presentation

Full Name of Faculty Mentor

George Hitt and Braden Goddard, Physics and Engineering Science

Major

Engineering Science

Second Major

Applied Physics

Presentation Abstract

This research focuses on safeguards issues regarding thorium-based nuclear reactors. The Th-232 in the reactors is converted into Th-233. The Th-233 decays to Pa-233, which later decays to U-233. Pa-233 is not a safeguarded material, and therefore could possibly be diverted out of the reactor to produce unmonitored U-233. Pa-232 and Pa-234 are also produced in the reactor and decay to U-232 and U-234, respectively. Because Pa-232 and Pa-234 have shorter half-lives than Pa-233, the Pa-233 will make up the largest protactinium percentage over time. If the decayed uranium is separated from the Pa-233, this will lead to more purified U-233 once the Pa-233 decays. To better understand the mixed protactinium gamma radiation sources, three isotopes are modeled using Monte Carlo based radiation transport with spectral results then being fed into a spreadsheet tool to create a visualization of the spectra. This tool can facilitate improvements in nonproliferation and safeguards.

Location

Room 1

Start Date

22-4-2021 2:00 PM

End Date

22-4-2021 2:20 PM

Disciplines

Engineering Physics

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Apr 22nd, 2:00 PM Apr 22nd, 2:20 PM

Investigation of Potential Protactinium Safeguards Vulnerabilities for Thorium Fuel Cycles

Room 1

This research focuses on safeguards issues regarding thorium-based nuclear reactors. The Th-232 in the reactors is converted into Th-233. The Th-233 decays to Pa-233, which later decays to U-233. Pa-233 is not a safeguarded material, and therefore could possibly be diverted out of the reactor to produce unmonitored U-233. Pa-232 and Pa-234 are also produced in the reactor and decay to U-232 and U-234, respectively. Because Pa-232 and Pa-234 have shorter half-lives than Pa-233, the Pa-233 will make up the largest protactinium percentage over time. If the decayed uranium is separated from the Pa-233, this will lead to more purified U-233 once the Pa-233 decays. To better understand the mixed protactinium gamma radiation sources, three isotopes are modeled using Monte Carlo based radiation transport with spectral results then being fed into a spreadsheet tool to create a visualization of the spectra. This tool can facilitate improvements in nonproliferation and safeguards.

https://digitalcommons.coastal.edu/ugrc/test1/test1track/28