Homeland Security

Homeland security: monitoring nuclear nonproliferation

In nuclear reactors, the amount of plutonium builds up as the uranium fuel is used, and the number and characteristics of antineutrinos emitted by plutonium differ significantly from the number of antineutrinos emitted by uranium. This makes it possible for a specially doped liquid scintillator detector monitoring the antineutrino flux from a nuclear reactor core to analyze the content of the reactor and verify that no tampering has occurred with the reactor fuel. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has built and is testing a one-ton version of this type of detector, originally developed by high energy physicists to study the characteristics of neutrinos and antineutrinos, as a demonstration of a new monitoring technology for nuclear nonproliferation.