A New Laser Based Sensor for Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Safeguards
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
Energy Research Company
1250 South Ave., Plainfield, NJ, -
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractEnergy Research Company (ERCo), together with Los Alamos National Laboratory, is developing a new laser-based sensor for improving the safety and efficiency of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing. In commercial-scale nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities there exists a stress between the operator and the inspectorate that results from an attempt to balance nuclear fuel production and international safeguards requirements for the control of nuclear materials. Much of this stress is caused by the near universal dependence of safeguards measurements upon the highly accurate and reliable, but very time consuming, mass spectrometry technique. Much of the time is consumed by highly specialized sample preparation and separation. The technology in the proposed sensor allows the sensor to be in-situ, meaning that samples of the solutions of dissolved spent fuel do not need to be transported to a laboratory, saving considerable time. The technology is also very rapid, allowing for an analysis to be completed in seconds. One reason why the technology is fast is that it determines the concentrations of all the fissile materials at once. The stress between the inspectorate and the plant personnel will be alleviated with this information. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The benefits of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel are significant, and include reducing the volume of spent fuel that needs to be stored and safeguarded and reducing the impact of uranium mining on the environment. Reprocessing is currently done in only a handful of plants around the world. ERCos proposed technology will make it economical and safe to expand nuclear fuel reprocessing.
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