Modeling of High-Burnup Reactors for Antineutrino Safeguards

Anna Erickson, Georgia Institute of Technology

Since the first observation of antineutrinos from beta decay of the fission products inside a nuclear reactor in 1956, the design and operating experience of antineutrino detectors near reactors has increased to the point where it’s now possible to monitor the reactor’s power level and progression through its burnup cycle. With the expected increase in world nuclear energy capacity, including the dissemination of reactor technologies to non-nuclear states, the need is evident for safeguards measures that are able to provide continuous, near-real-time information about the state of the core, including its isotopic composition, in a tamper- and spoof-resistant manner. Near-field (about 20 m from the core) antineutrino detectors are able to fulfill this demand without perturbing normal reactor operation, requiring instrumentation that penetrates the reactor vessel, or displacing other plant structures. In this presentation, we note that there is little need for antineutrino safeguards in the current fleet of nuclear power plants. However, independent verification of plant operational status becomes important as progress is made in advanced reactor design, with some projected to operate in “turn-key” mode with little to no refueling over the plant’s lifetime.

Abstract Author(s): Anna Erickson