Experimental validation of a nuclear forensics methodology for source reactor-type discrimination of chemically separated plutonium Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2018 An experimental validation of a nuclear forensics methodology for the source reactor-type discrimination of separated weapons-useable plutonium is presented. The methodology uses measured values of intra-element isotope ratios of plutonium and fission product contaminants. MCNP radiation transport codes were used for various reactor core modeling and fuel burnup simulations. A reactor-dependent library of intra-element isotope ratio values as a function of burnup and time since irradiation was created from the simulation results. The experimental validation of the methodology was achieved by performing two low-burnup experimental irradiations, resulting in distinct fuel samples containing sub-milligram quantities of weapons-useable plutonium. The irradiated samples were subjected to gamma and mass spectrometry to measure several intra-element isotope ratios. For each reactor in the library, a maximum likelihood calculation was utilized to compare the measured and simulated intra-element isotope ratio values, producing a likelihood value which is proportional to the probability of observing the measured ratio values, given a particular reactor in the library. The measured intra-element isotope ratio values of both irradiated samples and its comparison with the simulation predictions using maximum likelihood analyses are presented. The analyses validate the nuclear forensics methodology developed.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Osborn, J. M., Glennon, K. J., Kitcher, E. D., Burns, J. D., Folden, C., & Chirayath, S. S.

citation count

  • 14

complete list of authors

  • Osborn, Jeremy M||Glennon, Kevin J||Kitcher, Evans D||Burns, Jonathan D||Folden, Charles MIII||Chirayath, Sunil S

publication date

  • April 2019