Nuclear Archaeology for Gaseous Diffusion Enrichment Plants

Sébastien Philippe, Alexander Glaser, "Nuclear Archaeology for Gaseous Diffusion Enrichment Plants," Science & Global Security 22, no. 1 (2014): 27-49

Gaseous diffusion was historically the most widely used technology for military production of highly enriched uranium. Since June 2013, all gaseous diffusion enrichment plants worldwide are permanently shut down. The experience with decommissioning some of these plants has shown that they contain large amounts of uranium particles deposited in the cascade equipment. This article evaluates the potential of using uranium particle deposition to understand and reconstruct the operating histories of gaseous diffusion enrichment plants. First, a squared-off cascade enrichment model is derived to estimate the enrichment capacity of a reference plant. Then, using a cross-flow filtration model, the mass of solid uranium particles deposited over time in the tubular separation membranes of the stage diffusers is calculated. Finally, potential techniques to characterize these uranium deposits and help reconstruct the operating history of the plant are assessed.

Article access: Taylor & Francis Online | Free PDF