Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

NRE 8011/8012 and MP 6011/6012 Seminar

Nuclear & Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics Programs


The DPRK and Iran -- case studies in antineutrino reactor monitoring


Dr. Patrick Huber


Virginia Tech


Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM


Boggs Building, Room 3-47


Dr. Anna Erickson


In this talk I will present two case studies of the application of antineutrino reactor monitoring to real-world scenarios -- the North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994 and the Iranian IR-40 heavy water moderated reactor. I will show detection limits to partial or full core discharges. In case of the DPRK, based on actual IAEA inspection access, we found that two independent methods would have yielded positive evidence for a second core with very high confidence. In the Iranian case, we found that antineutrino monitoring could allow the IAEA to meet and in some cases significantly exceed their safeguard detection goals in terms of sensitivity and timeliness for monitoring plutonium production. In addition to monitoring the reactor during its operations, observing antineutrino emissions from long-lived isotopes could also allow the IAEA to effectively monitor the reactor when it is shut down. Antineutrino monitoring could provide means for the IAEA to re-establish continuity of knowledge in its safeguards conclusions should this become necessary. Generalizing these results, a key finding of this study is that a wide class of reactors with a thermal power of 0.1-1GWt can be monitored using antineutrinos achieving IAEA goals for quantitative sensitivity and timeliness.


Dr. Huber is Associate Professor in the Physics Department of Virginia Tech and a founding member of the Center for Neutrino Physics at that institution. His research is focused on fundamental properties of neutrinos and their relation to other areas of physics like astrophysics. He first proposed, together with Th. Schwetz, to use the antineutrino emission from a nuclear reactor to quantify the plutonium content in the reactor core. He is an expert in reactor flux computation and data analysis. He also is a member of the Daya Bay reactor antineutrino oscillation experiment in China. He holds a diploma degree (German equivalent of M.Sc.) and a Ph.D. in physics from the Technical University Munich, Germany.