Arktis prototype will non-intrusively check Dry Casks, used to store high-level radioactive waste at fuel storage installations, in order to monitor their contents. Arktis will collaborate on the new research and development project with the University of Florida (UFL).
The storage of Spent Nuclear Fuels (SNF) is a big issue. On average, each of the 104 operating reactors in the United States produces 20 metric tons of plutonium per year. With on-site SNF pools filling up, and no centralized repository available in the near term, the amount of fuel being kept in dry storage for an extended period of time is a concern to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agency has therefore called for improved methods to verify the content of sealed dry casks in order to restore a continuity of knowledge about their contents and to facilitate the creation of a comprehensive inventory of all stored nuclear materials. The new system being designed by UFL will feature a neutron spectroscopy and imaging system using high-efficiency Helium-4 gas scintillation via fast neutron detectors developed by Arktis. The company has produced a range of next generation detectors based on He-4 gas scintillation technology for use in security and industrial applications.
The systems deliver numerous advantages over legacy neutron and gamma detectors and can be used for a wide range of applications. The use of He-4 - or Noble Gases - is paramount; the material is readily available and at a much lower cost than the He-3 gases typically used in current detection systems.