Near real time enrichment verification with gas phase UF6 alpha spectroscopy


At-line process monitoring has been implemented across a variety of industries to provide near real time sampling-based analysis with minimal process impact. However, sampling-based analysis at gas centrifuge enrichment facilities has thus far been limited to labor-intensive manual sampling and off-line analysis. A new technique is under development that could facilitate automated, near real time enrichment measurements using alpha spectroscopy. Modeling results indicate that alpha detectors could be used to measure enrichment using minuscule gas-phase UF6 samples with no need for sample preparation. Alpha spectroscopy can directly measure each uranium isotope, and wouldn't rely on an operator's process information, which would make it an excellent complement to the On-line Enrichment Monitor for unattended enrichment verification. The work described herein is focused on modeling-based feasibility determination and the development of a coating to protect silicon alpha detector surfaces. A coating should be inert to UF6 process gas and thin enough to minimize alpha particle energy attenuation and peak broadening. Thin film aluminum fluoride was identified as such a material. Additionally, a new UF6 loop with in-situ analytical capabilities for studying UF6-material interactions was developed to support this research and is described here.

Publication Title

GLOBAL 2019 - International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Conference and TOP FUEL 2019 - Light Water Reactor Fuel Performance Conference

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