The Attractiveness of Materials in Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycles for Various Proliferation and Theft Scenarios

MON, 10/31/2011 - 4:00PM TO 5:00PM
Fall 2011 Colloquium Series

We must anticipate that the day is approaching when details of nuclear weapons design and fabrication will become common knowledge. On that day we must be particularly certain that all special nuclear materials (SNM) are adequately accounted for and protected and that we have a clear understanding of the utility of nuclear materials to potential adversaries. To this end, this talk will examine the attractiveness of materials mixtures containing SNM and alternate nuclear materials (ANM) associated with the plutonium-uranium reduction extraction (PUREX), uranium extraction (UREX), co-extraction (COEX), and thorium extraction (THOREX) reprocessing schemes. This talk will provide a set of figures of merit (FOM) for evaluating material attractiveness that covers a broad range of proliferant state and subnational group capabilities. The primary conclusion of this talk is that all fissile material must be rigorously safeguarded to detect diversion by a state and provided the highest levels of physical protection to prevent theft by subnational groups; no “silver bullet” fuel cycle has been found that will permit the relaxation of current international safeguards or national physical security protection levels. The work reported in this talk has been performed at the request of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and is based on the calculation of “attractiveness levels” that are expressed in terms consistent with, but normally reserved for the nuclear materials in DOE nuclear facilities. The methodology and findings are presented. Additionally, how these attractiveness levels relate to proliferation resistance and physical security are presented.

About the Speaker:

Charles G. Bathke: PhD in Nuclear Engineering, University of Illinois, United States of America. PostDoc at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Dr. Charles G. Bathke is a staff member (Scientist 4) in D-5 Nuclear Design and Risk Analysis Group. He worked on the Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI) and its predecessor the Accelerator Transmutation of Waste (ATW) from 2000 through 2004, where he developed the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Simulation (NFCSim) code, which simulates the civilian nuclear fuel cycle from cradle (mine) to grave (waste repository). Bathke has been with Los Alamos since 1978, performing systems analyses of reactors based upon various magnetic fusion confinement schemes, proton accelerators used to generate tritium, electron accelerators used for x-ray radiography, and terrorist-induced biological events. For the past four years, his focus has been material attractiveness and non-proliferation.

- He received the American Nuclear Society, Isotopes and Radiation Division, Best Student Contributed Paper Award in 1974.
- He received the American Nuclear Society, Fusion Energy Division, Outstanding Technical Accomplishment Award in 1994.
- He received the Los Alamos National Laboratory 2008 Distinguished Performance Award for his work on “SNM Attractiveness Analysis for Next-Generation Nuclear Power”.