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Safe Transportation of Excess Plutonium


Theoretical-Calculation and Experimental Support of Safe Transportation and Storage of Excess Weapons-Grade Plutonium Transferred to the Civil Sphere of Utilization

Tech Area / Field

  • FIR-NSS/Nuclear Safety and Safeguarding/Fission Reactors

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Zalouzhny A A

Leading Institute
VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk

Supporting institutes

  • Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, Russia, Moscow\nMIFI, Russia, Moscow

Project summary

Termination of military use of excess plutonium gives rise to many problems which are studied by institutions from many countries. Independently of specifying the destiny of the excess plutonium (reprocessing, use as a reactor fuel, long-term storage), there exist some problems that have to be solved first of all. The proposed project focuses on the most important of them.

The necessity of plutonium transportation demands to solve the problem of ensuring its safety. To study this problem in the frameworks of the project it is planned to consider different cases of possible transportation incidents including terrorist actions and develop methods of their evaluation. It is intended to use geo-information technology for assessment of the transportation hazard and the risk control. It is also needed to develop physical and mathematical models of the most probable accidental cases for getting parameters estimation of impact on container with plutonium. These models have to be realized in corresponding computer code systems.

High toxicity of plutonium caused introducing extremely strict regulations on its content in the environment. It is desirable to develop special methods and instruments for performing monitoring of the plutonium content at the places of its transportation and storage. In the frameworks of the project it is planned to create an experimental unit of semiconductor a-spectrometer for detecting plutonium traces as well as to develop reliable methods for restoration of plutonium content in samples of different thickness.

It seems to be important also to study the behavior of the used containers under off-normal loads. The source of off-normal loads can be accidental processes both inside and outside the container. To study the first one, it is planned to develop models and codes for simulating the main neutron and thermal-physical processes in the container. Equations of elastoplasticity for the container body will be solved also. To study an outside loading some approximate models have to be developed based on existing experimental data. These researches mainly aim at determining loading levels under which the container AT400R used for transportation of fissile materials is destroyed in accidental situations.

A special attention must be paid to assessment of the environmental impact caused by accidents during plutonium transportation or storage when the container is destroyed. It is planned to consider the most severe accidents accomplished with atmospheric dispersion of plutonium-containing materials and transport of contaminating aerosols up to tens of kilometers downwind. The main aim of these investigations is to estimate environment contamination and possible inhalation doses. It also includes developing models and codes to simulate atmospheric transport of contaminated aerosols originating from accidental dispersion of plutonium.

The basic results of the present work should be the following:

· Physical and mathematical models of railway and highway accidents at transportation of containers with excess plutonium;

· Development of methods and programs for deriving safety (risk) estimates on the basis of analysis of traffic accidents;

· Development of models and computer codes to estimate safety (risk) during transportation of containers with excess plutonium based on methods of fuzzy logic;

· Advanced GIS-technology to analyze transportation hazard;

· Developing stable techniques for restoring a content of plutonium and other a-radiating radionuclides in samples of various thickness using measured a-spectra;

· Creating a pilot sample of semiconductor a-spectrometer with noise level low then 1-3 impulses per day which can be used under field conditions;

· Developing programs for coupled modeling of the basic nuclear-physical and thermal-physical processes inside a container taking into account equations of elasticity;

· Specialized databases for nuclear-physical and thermal-physical properties of the basic materials storing in a container or used as its constructive elements;

· Models of the container loading and behavior at accidents (static and dynamic crushing, punching, fire of different degree);

· Evaluation of critical loading levels of containers at unsealing relative to the IAEA requirements;

· Algorithm and programs for estimation of risk concerned with unsealing of a container; results of risk estimation for AT400R container;

· Assessment of dispersional and spatial distribution of plutonium aerosol source under different scenarios of accidents;

· Estimates of inhalation doses as well as environmental contamination at various accidents involving plutonium dispersion;

· Conceptual scheme and algorithms for a mathematical model of a long-term migration of plutonium deposited on the ground taking into account the secondary effects resulted from the particle resuspension as well as temporal dependence of the primary parameters of the model;

· Prediction of radiological impact of different accidents for various temporal intervals.

Foreign collaborators are welcome to participate in the Project. The collaboration is the most desirable on the following issues:

· discussion and specification of the project tasks;
· discussion of the project results and participation in verification of the developed models and codes.


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