EU Science Hub

Laser-based Monitoring of UF6 cylinders

Abstract: 
Development efforts are in progress to enhance safeguards implementation at uranium enrichment facilities. One component of the enhanced approach is the systematic tracking of UF6 cylinders between process and storage areas as well as between different process areas. The main challenges are the means of tracking the cylinders reliably with a minimum of operator involvement, and finding the optimum location to install a monitoring system which is capable of recognising all types of cylinders as well detecting non-standard containers. A Laser Item Identification System (L2IS) has been developed successfully that is capable of monitoring all transfers of UF6 cylinders between process areas. L2IS uniquely identifies each cylinder through exploring the unique microstructure of each cylinder's surface. It has been demonstrated that every cylinder has a unique 'fingerprint' which remains intact even under extreme environmental conditions. The L2IS system is composed of a portable unit, operated in attended mode, and a fixed installed unit, operated without inspector presence. The portable unit acquires the fingerprints of a given set of feed cylinders intended to be used over the coming months and the fixed system monitors the flow of previously identified cylinders in a transfer corridor. This system is coupled with standard video surveillance that can remotely transmit state of health information to IAEA Headquarters. The video surveillance can be interfaced with electronic seals applied to the cylinders to record and display seals data (e.g. status, time/date of application). The integration of data from the L2IS with data from weighing and NDA stations is foreseen to monitor and verify all transfers. This will provide a high deterrence of diversion or substitution, and an increased probability of detection thereof. The paper will describe the successful results of the L2IS after a year of field testing, the intended use of the L2IS during inspection, and the possible additional integration of other monitoring capabilities.