EARTH at IAEA (Attendance��Report)

EARTH was present at the Focused Workshop on Antineutrino Detection for Safeguards Applications, 28-30 October 2008. The Workshop is an expert meeting discussing the various antineutrino detector systems and their application in nuclear reactor monitoring with an emphasis on Non-Proliferation Aspects. Prof. Rob de Meijer, director of the Stichting EARTH foundation attended the meeting as the Dutch representative. The Experts have come to the conclusion that the Antineutrinos have unique features that make them especially interesting for IAEA safeguards: they cannot be shielded, are inextricably linked with the fission process, and provide direct real-time measurements of the operational status, power and fissile content of reactor cores, using a device that is under the control of the safeguards agent rather than the reactor operator. Antineutrino detection offers a practical material accountancy capability for reactors. In this respect it differs significantly from and is complementary to the item accountancy, containment and surveillance measures which now prevail in the IAEA reactor safeguards regime. They recommend IAEA to work towards implementing antineutrino monitoring in their Safeguarding and especially in new and future reactors, such as the Pebble Bed Modular Reactors (PBMR).

            In the meeting it became clear that although the present detectors, as developed in the USA, are able to monitor, their “footprint” is rather large. The present detection techniques based on neutron detection via gamma-rays (capture in Gd) does not allow a reduction is size, without a serious reduction in efficiency. The development within the EARTH programme searches for detection materials based on neutron detection via alpha particles. This may reduce the footprint of the detectors.


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