Change of the Quality of the Material Aspects of the Intrinsic Proliferation Barrier of Reactor-Grade Plutonium Produced in a PWR as a Function of Fuel Type, Cooling Time, and Burn-Up – I. Naydenov

In the recent years, non-proliferation of nuclear materials has become an important issue, regarding civilian fuel cycle’s development. In addition, future nuclear energy systems’ and nuclear fuel cycles’ advancement should comply with non-proliferation criteria. These requirements derive from the circumstance that nuclear power is considered to be a dual purpose technology. Special attention to proliferation resistance has been paid since 2000, the main concerns arising from plutonium stockpiles accumulation, and plutonium being considered among the most important materials related to nonproliferation.

There is an on-going debate about reactor-grade plutonium’s usability for nuclear explosives manufacturing. Furthermore, there isn’t universally recognized and verified methodology for proliferation resistance assessment. On the other hand, intrinsic material factors may play further role in strengthening fuel cycles’ proliferation resistance, since the majority of the efforts in that area has gone so far into enhancing technical barriers. The article presents an analysis of the change of the intrinsic barrier’s quality of reactor-grade PWRplutonium as a function of fuel type, burn-up, and cooling time, the main focus being on the physical components. The assessment has been carried out using three different methodologies in an attempt to evaluate their applicability in intrinsic material barrier analysis.

Keywords: material barrier, proliferation resistance, reactor-grade plutonium.