Nu Tools: Exploring Practical Roles for Neutrinos in Nuclear Energy and Security

For decades, physicists have used neutrinos from nuclear reactors to advance basic science. Detection technology has reached the point where we can now ask whether observing neutrinos may also be useful for reactor operators, international inspectors, or nuclear treaty negotiators. The Nu Tools Forum welcomes a range of perspectives from the nuclear industry and nuclear security communities through direct engagement and online meetings to be conducted through the Spring and Summer of 2020.

Discussion within the forum will directly shape an advisory report to the DOE/NNSA Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D office. The Executive Committee is charged (pdf) by the office to conduct this study. The forum will focus on six areas:

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Reactor Power Monitoring: Anna Erickson, Bryce Littlejohn, Nathaniel Bowden

Neutrino detectors can measure reactor power in real time, from some distance outside the reactor building. Does this capability have practical value for reactor operators or for international inspectors?
Fact Sheet: Reactor Power Monitoring


Fissile Content: Jon Link, Nathaniel Bowden

Observing neutrinos from a reactor can, over time, give information about the materials inside. Neutrino signals can reveal diversion of plutonium from the fuel; advanced neutrino detectors could look for production of new isotopes in a reactor. Can these capabilities complement existing approaches to tracking reactor contents?
Fact Sheets:
Fissile Content


Non-Fissile Material Transmutation: Pieter Mumm, Andrew Conant, Jason Newby

Advanced neutrino detectors could look for isotope production in a reactor, such as tritium or medical and industrial isotopes. Can this capability complement existing approaches to tracking contents for current or future reactors?
Fact Sheets:
Non-Fission Material Transmutation


Irradiated Fuel Monitoring: Patrick Huber, Michael Foxe

Reactor fuel continues to release low levels of neutrinos after it is used. Could it be useful to monitor neutrino signals from short- or long-term spent fuel repositories?

Fact Sheet: Irradiated Fuel Monitoring


Post-incident Monitoring: Andrew Conant, Jason Newby

If an accident occurs at a nuclear facility, neutrino signals could, in principle, provide some clarifying information. Are there situations in which it would be valuable to collect these signals?
Fact Sheet: Post-Accident Reactor Monitoring

Regional Reactor Discovery, Exclusion, and Monitoring: Igor Jovanovic, Michael Foxe, Milind Diwan

Neutrino signals fall as the distance from a reactor increases, but long-range discovery, exclusion, or monitoring of reactors is possible. Are there situations in which this capacity could usefully complement existing methods for remotely observing reactors?

Fact Sheet: Regional Reactor Discovery, Exclusion, and Monitoring


Scientific Engagement: Rachel Carr, Nathaniel Bowden

Neutrino physics is an active and highly international endeavor. Could neutrino projects play a role in nuclear diplomacy, by helping to cooperatively verify an international agreement, or by connecting former weapons scientist to peaceful work?

Fact Sheet: Scientific Engagement