Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction with Advanced Separations
Illicit nuclear activities such as the assembly of weapons of mass destruction or radiological dispersal devices (“dirty bombs”) pose a threat to national and world security. National governments and world-wide organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency share an interest in monitoring and regulating international nuclear processes and materials. Nuclear forensics involves the examination of radioactive materials, using a variety of analytical techniques, with an end goal of determining the history and origin of the substance—guiding law-enforcement agencies as they determine “Whodunnit?”
This talk will introduce the role of scientists in nuclear forensics and identify technological needs for fieldable radiation detection techniques. It will also present two recently developed radioanalytical detection methods for pre-detonation nuclear forensics that can be used to monitor environmental waters for special nuclear material: (1) extractive scintillating resins that simultaneously concentrate radionuclides while transducing a radiometric signal and (2) ultrafiltration alpha spectroscopy substrates that can be used for simple sample preparation for isotopic analyses.
Christine Duval is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at CWRU. Professor Duval’s research group develops advanced materials (resins and membrane adsorbers) for highly selective separations. These materials have applications in nuclear forensics, medical isotope purification and environmental remediation. Before joining the faculty at Case Western in August 2017, she was a Summer Scholar with the US Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence in the Nuclear Materials Information Program.