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Incorporating Plutonium Particle Size Effects in the Assessment of Active Mode Measurement Uncertainty in Passive-Active Neutron Radioassay Systems

Larry G. Blackwood, Yale D. Harker

Nuclear Technology

Volume 138 / Number 1 / April 2002 / Pages 58-68


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Assessment of active mode measurement uncertainty in passive-active neutron radioassay systems used to measure Pu content in nuclear waste is severely hampered by lack of knowledge of the waste Pu particle size distribution, which is a major factor in determining bias in active mode measurements. The sensitivity of active mode measurements to particle size precludes using simulations or surrogate waste forms to estimate uncertainty in active mode measurements when the particle size distribution is not precisely known or inadequately reproduced. An alternative approach is based on a statistical comparison of active and passive mode results in the mass range for which both active and passive mode analyses produce useable measurements. Because passive mode measurements are not particularly sensitive to particle size effects, their uncertainty can be more easily assessed. Once bias corrected, passive mode measurements can serve as confirmatory measurements for the estimation of active mode bias. Further statistical analysis of the errors in measurements leads to precision estimates for the active mode.

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