Investigation of the formation of volatile fission products using furnace and gamma detectors

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Zen, Andy Zeren

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The objective of this thesis was to investigate the formation of volatile fission products resulting from an underground nuclear explosion to determine possible new signatures for monitoring purposes. The experiment was performed by irradiating a sample of rhenium (Re) wire using the reactor at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab (NETL). The sample was then loaded into a stainless-steel column which was suspended within a furnace and heated at 400-500°C. The activity of the Re was monitored using two external gamma detectors placed at different heights along the column, and the resulting gamma counts were used to determine the movement of volatile products are they were produced. The experiments discussed in this thesis were conducted to determine the viability of the furnace setup as a method of producing volatile compounds, using Re wire as a preliminary sample due to its ability to produce volatile Re₂O₇ at a relative low temperatures. The Re wire was not successfully volatized using the experimental methods presented, however it does not conclude that the furnace setup cannot be used to produce detectable volatile signatures. In addition to the Re wire experiment, a review of parameters for the Subsurface Transport Over Multiple Phases (STOMP) simulator was performed in order to assist future experiments on which parameters to focus future studies


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