The development of radioactive glass surrogates for fallout debris
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The production of glass that emulates fallout is desired by the nuclear forensics community for training and measurement exercises. The composition of nuclear fallout is complex, with widely varying isotopic compositions (Fahey et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107(47):20207–20212, 2010; Bellucci et al., Anal Chem 85:7588–7593, 2013; Wallace et al., J Radioanal Nucl Chem, 2013; Belloni et al., J Environ Radioact 102:852–862, 2011; Freiling, Science 139:1058–1059, 1963; Science 133:1991–1999, 1961; Bunney and Sam Government Report: Naval Ordinance Laboratory, White Oak, 1971). As the gaseous cloud traverses from hotter to cooler regions of the atmosphere, the processes of condensation and nucleation entrain environmental materials, vaporized nuclear materials and fission products. The elemental and isotopic composition of the fission products is altered due to chemical fractionation (i.e. the fission product composition that would be expected from fission of the original nuclear material is altered by differences in condensation rates of the elements); the fallout may be enriched or depleted in volatile or refractory fission products. This paper describes preliminary work to synthesize, irradiate and fractionate the fission product content of irradiated particulate glass using a thermal distillation 2 h after irradiation. The glass was synthesized using a solution-based polymerization of tetraethyl orthosilicate. (Izrael, Radioactive fallout after nuclear explosions and accidents, 2002) Uranium was incorporated into the glass particulate at trace concentrations during polymerization. The particulate was subjected to a short thermal neutron irradiation then heated to 1,273 K approximately 2 h after the end of irradiation. Fission products of 133, 134, 135I, 132, 134Te, 135Xe, 138Cs and 91, 92Sr were observed to be distilled from the particulate. The results of these preliminary studies are discussed.
KeywordsFission products Glass Fractionation Nuclear forensics Neutron activation Sol–gel glass
The authors acknowledge the US Department of Energy’s Office of National Technical Nuclear Forensics for funding this work. We also acknowledge the contributions of Mr. Fred Gholsen and Mr. Andrew Smolinksi and the INL’s neutron radiography Training Research Isotopes General Atomic (TRIGA) reactor staff for providing sample irradiations. Also recognized are: Mr. Jeffrey Berg for dissolution of the glass samples, and Mr. Marcos Jimenez for performing the isotope dilution mass spectrometry measurements.
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