Simulated Verification of Fuel Element Inventory in a Small Reactor Core Using the Nuclear Materials Identification System (NMIS)

Grogan, Brandon R.; Mihalczo, John T.
January 2009
Proceedings of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Ann;2009, p1
Conference Proceeding
The International Panel on Climate Change projects that by 2050 the world energy demand may double. Although the primary focus for new nuclear power plants in industrialized nations is on large plants in the 1000-1600 MWe range, there is an increasing demand for small and medium reactors (SMRs). About half of the innovative SMR concepts are small (<300 MWe) reactors with a 5-30 year life without on-site refueling. This type of reactor is also known as a battery-type reactor. These reactors are particularly attractive in countries with small power grids and for nonelectrical purposes such as heating, hydrogen production, and seawater desalination. Traditionally, this size of reactor has been used for nautical propulsion. It is designed as a permanently sealed unit to prevent material diversion of the uranium in the core by the user. However, after initial fabrication it will be necessary to verify that the newly fabricated reactor core contains the declared quantity of uranium to thwart material diversion by the builder. The Nuclear Materials Identification System (NMIS) with fast neutron imaging uses active interrogation and a fast time-correlation processor to characterize fissile material. This paper describes preliminary evaluations of the feasibility of using the NMIS with fast neutron imaging to validate the amount of fissile material in the completed core. The MCNP-PoliMi computer code was used to simulate NMIS measurements of a small, sealed reactor core. Because most battery-type reactor designs are still in the early design phase, the simulations used a Russian icebreaker core that is already in production. These simulations show how the radiographic capabilities of NMIS can be used to detect the diversion of fissile material by detecting void areas in the assembled core from which fuel elements have been removed. The simulations have shown that NMIS fast neutron imaging can detect the removal of as little as 0.67% of the fuel inventory from a single location or the symmetric removal of 1.33% of the fuel.


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