Activation of enriched environmental xenon by 14-MeV neutrons


The international monitoring system exists to verify compliance with the terms of the comprehensive test ban treaty. About 10% of the member stations will be capable of detecting radioxenon, which can be produced in nuclear detonations or through civilian processes. We have studied the activation of radioxenon by the prompt, intense spectrum of 14-MeV neutrons produced at the National Ignition Facility. While 14-MeV neutrons are not currently a significant contributor to the production of radioxenon, we find that radioxenon produced through activation of environmental xenon by 14-MeV neutrons would be distinguishable from activation by nuclear tests.

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This work was performed under the auspices of the US Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract DE-AC52-07NA27344. The authors would like to thank Mark Wilson, Jim Cox, and the NIF Facility and Operations staff for their assistance in fielding the experiment discussed in this work and for implementing the SUPER-RUSH sample collection protocol which enabled a high-statistics measurement of the decay of 135-gXe. The authors thank Michaele Kashgarian, Keenan Thomas, and Todd Wooddy and the Nuclear Counting Facility Staff for their assistance in collecting the radioxenon decay data discussed in this work.

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Correspondence to A. Ratkiewicz.

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Ratkiewicz, A., Hopkins, L.B., Bleuel, D.L. et al. Activation of enriched environmental xenon by 14-MeV neutrons. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 317, 169–175 (2018).

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  • Radioxenon
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Treaty verification
  • Neutron activation
  • National Ignition Facility