Nuclear Technology / Volume 197 / Number 1 / January 2017 / Pages 12-19
Technical Paper / dx.doi.org/10.13182/NT16-88
Nuclear forensics has a broad task to characterize recovered nuclear or radiological material and interpret the results of investigation. One approach to isotopic characterization of nuclear material obtained from a reactor is to chemically separate and perform isotopic measurements on the sample and verify the results with modeling of the sample history, for example, operation of a nuclear reactor. The major actinide plutonium and fission product cesium are commonly measured signatures of the fuel history in a reactor core. This study investigates the uncertainty of the plutonium and cesium isotope ratios of a fuel rod discharged from a research pressurized water reactor when the location of the sample is not known a priori. A sensitivity analysis showed overpredicted values for the 240Pu/239Pu ratio toward the axial center of the rod and revealed a lower probability of the rod of interest (ROI) being on the periphery of the assembly. The uncertainty analysis found the relative errors due to only the rod position and boron concentration to be 17% to 36% and 7% to 15% for the 240Pu/239Pu and 137Cs/135Cs ratios, respectively. This study provides a method for uncertainty quantification of isotope concentrations due to the location of the ROI. Similar analyses can be performed to verify future chemical and isotopic analyses.