Diagram courtesy of NCR

ME Department collaborators Dr. Andrew Osborne and Dr. Mark Deinert were awarded a Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) grant to study a specialized tomography method for inspection of dry cask storage tanks using detectors that are both mobile and external to the cask. Dry cask storage allows spent nuclear fuel that has already been cooled in the spent fuel pool for at least one year to be surrounded by inert gas inside a container called a cask. The casks are typically steel cylinders that are either welded or bolted closed. The steel cylinder provides a leak-tight confinement of the spent fuel. Each cylinder is surrounded by additional steel, concrete, or other material to provide radiation shielding to workers and members of the public. Casks are typically used for both storage and transportation.

The team — comprised of researchers from Mines, Los Alamos, and Idaho National Lab — will develop a cosmic ray muon imaging system along with the algorithms for inspection tomography that use muons, neutrons and gamma rays. The final product will allow operators to inspect dry casks using this non-invasive method to detect fuel movement and the presence of fission gases inside sealed dry storage casks.