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Fissile Materials Identification Device


Development of the Technology for Prompt Control and Identification of Uranium and Plutonium in Containers with Application of a Non-Destructive Method on the Basis of a Russian Portable Rapid Inventory Confirmation System

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-NSS/Nuclear Safety and Safeguarding/Fission Reactors
  • INS-MEA/Measuring Instruments/Instrumentation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Bunyatov K S

Leading Institute
All-Russian Research Institute of Automatics, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • FEI (IPPE), Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory / University of California, USA, CA, Livermore

Project summary

The goal of the project is development of the technology for rapid control and identification of uranium and plutonium in containers with application of a non-destructive method on the basis of Russian portable rapid inventory confirmation system (RICS). As a result of the project an experimental prototype of RICS implementing technologies of rapid control and identification of uranium and plutonium with application of a bar code technology, documentation and user’s reference guide will be created.

At the present RF Minatom facilities need Russian-made suitable, cheap, portable devices as well as procedures that will make nuclear material (NM) documenting in MC&A unnecessary. As a result it will prevent mistakes that may occur in accounting documentation.

The fact that there are a lot of items to be inspected in the area of nuclear materials balance, and that they are presented in various forms and compositions with different in time isotope contents, leads to the necessity to use different calibration curves and make semi-empirical corrections during inspection checks. All that leads to the necessity to use an prompt computer-aided acquisition of information and its preliminary processing. Recent achievements in computer and bar code technology, which are the basic ones for efficient functioning of MC&A, allowed for improving MC&A. The implementation of the technology is of great importance to RF Minatom facilities and regional branches of RF GAN. To solve that kind of problems Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL, USA) developed a portable spectrometry system with application of a bar-code technology and intended for accurate analysis of holdups of special nuclear material (SNM) in nuclear facilities. Unique bar codes were applied on the measurement points. The system hardware consisted of a small-size NaI(Tl) detector with a multi-channel analyzer operating as a spectrometer and portable controller (Intermec, USA) linked to the analyzer via a serial interface.

The software designed for the controller and the applied measurement procedure made it possible to evaluate amount of special nuclear material holdups (of various forms) in installations. It is emphasized that the application of the system speeds up the performance of desirable measurements in ten or more times compared to manual measurements conducted with the help of devices.

Similar system Holdup Measurement System 3 (HMS3) being a commercial product was developed by EG&G ORTEC company, USA for measurements of holdups of SNM with application of 944X multi-channel analyzers, DART and Janus-2010 bar code reader.

Such systems have several shortcomings: high cost (not less than $10,000 without specialized software), the system consists of two devices connected via a communicating cable that made its operation inconvenient.

Taking into account the Russian experience in developing portable equipment, it is planned to create a Russian portable rapid inventory confirmation system (RICS) for prompt control and identification of uranium and plutonium in containers. The RICS will consist of a small-size detector NaI(Tl), collimator-protection, spectrometry terminal with a bar code reader, battery pack, special software and user’s reference guide. In the system under development a spectrometry device and bar code reader will be incorporated in one portable device - spectrometry terminal. The device will be based on the Russian terminal, which is an IBM compatible portable computer (on the basis of a 386 microprocessor) and built-in spectrometry board. The bar code reader can be linked to the terminal. It will be provided for installing various raiser boards, in particular, multi-channel analyzer board in the terminal for expanding device capabilities and creating specialized devices on the basis of the terminal. The data exchange between a spectrometry terminal and external computer will be conducted via an infrared and serial RS-232 interfaces by files, that will allow for integrating the terminal with MC&A system. During the development of the rapid inventory confirmation system (RICS) for uranium and plutonium identification it is planned to implement a method based on the analysis of the obtained gamma spectrum by a Na(Tl) detector in several energy intervals. The method of a hardware spectrum approximation in a 185.7 keV line area by a Gaussian curve will be used for quantitative evaluation of uranium enrichment. The method is applicable for control of uranium with partially shifted radioactive balance and also for control of materials and volumes containing recycled uranium. The possibility of specialized raiser board installation in the terminal will allow for performing measurements with different detectors. The cost of the Russian commercially produced RICS will not be more than 5,000-6,000 $. All that gives ground to consider the device under development as a basic portable device for MC&A at nuclear fuel cycle facilities.

However, for real introduction of the RICS to the RF Minatom facilities one has to find a comprehensive solution of the following problems: bar code reading, measurement performance, information processing and transmitting. One has to analyze technologies and equipment for bar code printing with due consideration of RF Minatom and GAN objectives.

To meet the project objectives it is necessary to:

– specify technical requirements for the Russian RICS;

– develop, produce and test an experimental prototype of the RICS;
– develop and manufacture experimental prototypes of a portable system with appropriate technical documentation;

– develop or adapt the existing software for identification of uranium and plutonium with quantitative evaluation of uranium enrichment on uranium-235 and application of bar code reading during measurements;

– select the necessary file format for recording data acquired during spectrometry measurements of uranium and plutonium (spectrum, processing results, comments, read bar code, calibration, measurement conditions, etc.) for further processing in database (e.g. Microsoft Access);

– analyze technologies and equipment for bar code printing with consideration of RF Minatom and GAN objectives;
– check the performance of the system in real conditions in stationary and temporary NM storage facilities;
– develop a user’s manual and regulatory documentation;
– conduct the demonstration of the RICS performance with issuing recommendations on its implementation.

During the work under the project, high-skilled scientific personal of VNIIA and IPPE will be employed.

All-Russian Research Institute of Automatics is the Russian institution that has a complete technology of development and manufacturing portable devices and nuclear material measurement technology. VNIIA has been carrying out works in the field of hardware support of MPC&A of NM. In particular, VNIIA has developed a portable fissile material identification system “Breget”, hand-held radiation monitors “Gaurd-2”, “Gnom” and other. In cooperation with SNIIP-Automatics VNIIA has developed the basic portable spectrometry radiation meter RPG-09P (“Kupol”) intended for quantitative and qualitative control of radioactive and fissile materials.

Under the Contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory VNIIA has developed a portable rapid inventory confirmation system (RICS) on the basis of a NaI(Tl) detector, Russian-made RPG-09P (“Kupol”) portable spectrometry device and Janus-2010 bar code reader (Intermec, USA). The developed mathematical software allowed for quantitative evaluation of uranium enrichment on uranium-235 with application of a non-destructive assay method in containers with uranium of various forms and compositions. The bar code of the measured object was read during the measurement process. Measurements with application of the RICS at actual nuclear facilities were performed. The obtained results showed the efficiency of the RICS application. The system was demonstrated at the 3-rd International Conference on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Materials, Ekaterinburg, Russia, 1999.

The results of VNIIA activities in the field of development and production of portable equipment for MC&A are presented in the proceedings of the International Conference on MPC&A, Obninsk, Russia, 1997.

State Science Center of Russian Federation Institute of Physics and Power Engineering has long enough been involved in development of stationary equipment for control of uranium and plutonium in different materials and environments. Recently IPPE in cooperation with national laboratories of USA has actively participated in the development of MPC&A. In particular, for these purposes IPPE widely uses gamma spectrometry methods with application of detectors on the basis of non-organic and semiconductor materials. For rapid uranium and plutonium identification at IPPE fast critical facility (FCF) being used is IPPE developed “IDEM” stationary device intended for determining the type of a fissile material and its enrichment. For a short time the computerized system of nuclear materials account (FCF) was implemented. Data on a number of characteristics (identification numbers, seals) are fed to the computer automatically by reading bar codes. The institute possesses experience in a bar code technology.

The specialists of the institute have estimated several procedures of printing bar code on the surface of fuel pellets containing uranium and plutonium and selected one of them as a standard one. The achievements of IPPE specialists in development of MC&A methods and equipment were presented at the recent International conference on MPC&A, Obninsk, Russia, 1997.

The following main results will be achieved under the project:

– development or adaptation of the technique for rapid control and identification of uranium and plutonium in containers with application of a non-destructive assay method on the basis of a Na(Tl) detector and with obtaining quantitative characteristics on uranium-235 (enrichment);
– creation of experimental prototype of the Russian portable RICS;
– selection of technology and development of recommendations on the equipment for printing bar codes with consideration of the real conditions at RF Minatom facilities;
– development of automated data acquisition technology on the basis of the portable RICS with application of bar-code reading;
– demonstration of RICS measurement technology and development of recommendations for implementing the system in Russian nuclear fuel cycle facilities;
– development of RICS technical documentation.

After completion of the project the final report containing recommendations on the implementation of the technology in MC&A of nuclear fuel cycle facilities will be issued.

The technology under development is intended for application in MC&A - the technology area “Nuclear safety and safeguards” (FIR-NSS). This method can used for other applications such as nuclear safety and inspection checks.

In the framework of the scientific and technical collaboration with the foreign partners it is planned to exchange the relevant information, to agree the technical requirements for the equipment to be developed, to jointly conduct the experiments for confirming the applicability and effectiveness of the system, to discuss the achieved results and to develop proposals on the system introduction. When working under the project it is planned to issue joint publications and make joint presentations at seminars and conferences.

The project implementation meets the ISTC goals and objectives, supports military conversion and involvement of the Russian scientists and specialists in the international scientific and technical community. The activities under the Project will be carried out by the VNIIA and IPPE specialists who were involved in the past in development of nuclear weapons test equipment.

The project is aimed at development of the technology in the area of Nuclear safety and safeguards.