I³MS - Göttsche Seminar

Location: AICES Seminar Room 115, 1st floor, Schinkelstr. 2, 52062 Aachen

Dr. Malte Göttsche - Reconstructing Past Fissile Material Production: An Inverse Problem

AICES Graduate School, RWTH Aachen University


Uncertainties of current fissile material stockpiles usable in nuclear weapons are high. There is a significant research gap on methods to establish such inventories accurately. Closing this gap will be one requirement to enable nuclear disarmament. Inspectors will need to verify that no significant amounts of undeclared or unknown stocks exist. The most promising approach is to reconstruct the fissile material production history based on information available today. This inverse approach is called nuclear archaeology.

An analysis of provided records on past nuclear fuel cycle operations can be conducted using fuel cycle simulation tools. Such an approach should be complemented by integrating into the analysis information gained from measurements taken during inspections. Regarding plutonium production for example, neutron activation assessments of permanent reactor components in or near the core could be used to calculate the reactor’s neutron fluence, which is related to the amount of produced plutonium. Measurements of the volume/mass and isotopic concentration of radioactive waste can provide further information on reactor operations.

To make best use of the various sources of information, new models are needed that integrate all information into an overall fissile material assessment. Uncertainties must be determined adequately; the overall aim is to use the available information such that the uncertainty of the overall estimate is minimized.