Characterization of a plutonium beryllium source for use in neutron damage studies

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Abstract

Standard lead loaded Hypalon gloves deteriorate at an accelerated pace in the glovebox environments of Los Alamos National Laboratory. In an effort to minimize glovebox breaches, a project was undertaken to characterize polymer damage due to various environments. For one such study, experimental techniques were used to facilitate the use of a neutron source in damage studies involving glovebox gloves. In order to identify the radiation field experienced by the polymer samples, a characterization of the neutron source in the experimental setup was needed. The plutoniumberyllium source used was chosen to mimic an average neutron flux in a typical LANL glovebox. However, it was surmised that a more exact experimental flux should be found rather then using merely numerical analysis. Subsequent to ascertaining the impending neutron flux, polyurethane gloves show superior properties when compared against standard leaded Hypalon gloves; however, polyurethane is shown to degrade faster following neutron irradiation.

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