October 6, 2022
Journal Article

Assessing High Fidelity Multi-Component Models to Facilitate Safeguards at Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plants


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors routinely carry out environmental sampling (ES) as a verification method. Collection of environmental swipe samples at various locations in Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Facilities (GCEPs) is an important process in detecting misuse of a declared facility and possibly the existence of undeclared nuclear material. These samples are measured for isotopic composition in uranium containing particles by Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) or Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Even though ES is highly effective in detecting the absolute value of enrichments and their deviations from the declared values, it cannot explain the cause of those changes. Several potential explanations can serve as possibilities for particles detected above or other than the declared enrichment. These include normal and non-malicious events such as the design of the enrichment cascades, unintentional failures of the machines, or overshoot during startup of a cascade. It can also be the result of deliberate misuse by the facility operators. The primary objective of this work is to understand how these factors affect the enrichments produced by a cascade and quantify anticipated multi-isotopic concentrations for each case. The following methodology is employed to determine signatures at a particular facility. 1) Utilize a new two-dimensional multi-component diffusion code to obtain centrifuge performance data and use that information to design and perform cascade analysis. Compare and contrast the results with previous 1-D radially averaged solutions from the Pancake code. 2) Design a GCEP cascade with the production goal of 19.75% 235U for each set of machine data above. Investigate two cascade scenarios that include enrichment of natural uranium (NU) feed to 19.75% 235U in a single cascade compared to a two-step process of NU to 5% and then 5% to 19.75%. 3) Simulate the intentional vs. unintentional off-normal scenarios in the cascades to assess the differences in isotopic concentrations. A non-ideal squared-off cascade model developed at the University of Virginia is used to calculate flow rates and isotopic concentrations of the process gas. The analysis is performed using the Rome machine model operated at 600 m/s rotor speed. The upper and lower bounds of normal and abnormal enrichments in a typical facility are used in conjunction with ES results to understand the root causes of such observations.

Published: October 6, 2022


Paudel W., D.C. Springfels, and H.G. Wood. 2022. Assessing High Fidelity Multi-Component Models to Facilitate Safeguards at Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plants. Nuclear Engineering and Design 398. PNNL-SA-171582. doi:10.1016/j.nucengdes.2022.111956

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