Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

J. Wesley Hines

Committee Members

Belle Upadhyaya, Jason Hayward, Hamparsum Bozdogan


As global demand for nuclear energy and threats to nuclear security increase, the need for verification of the peaceful application of nuclear materials and technology also rises. In accordance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency is tasked with verification of the declared enrichment activities of member states. Due to the increased cost of inspection and verification of a globally growing nuclear energy industry, remote process monitoring has been proposed as part of a next-generation, information-driven safeguards program. To further enhance this safeguards approach, it is proposed that process monitoring data may be used to not only verify the past but to anticipate the future via prognostic analysis. While prognostic methods exist for health monitoring of physical processes, the literature is absent of methods to predict the outcome of decision-based events, such as the production of undeclared enriched uranium.

This dissertation introduces a method to predict the time at which a significant quantity of unaccounted material is expected to be diverted during an enrichment process. This method utilizes a particle filter to model the data and provide a Type III (degradation-based) prognostic estimate of time to diversion of a significant quantity. Measurement noise for the particle filter is estimated using historical data and may be updated with Bayesian estimates from the analyzed data. Dynamic noise estimates are updated based on observed changes in process data. The reliability of the prognostic model for a given range of data is validated via information complexity scores and goodness of fit statistics. The developed prognostic method is tested using data produced from the Oak Ridge Mock Feed and Withdrawal Facility, a 1:100 scale test platform for developing gas centrifuge remote monitoring techniques. Four case studies are considered: no diversion, slow diversion, fast diversion, and intermittent diversion. All intervals of diversion and non-diversion were correctly identified and significant quantity diversion time was accurately estimated. A diversion of 0.8 kg over 85 minutes was detected after 10 minutes and predicted to be 84 minutes and 10 seconds after 46 minutes and 40 seconds with an uncertainty of 2 minutes and 52 seconds.

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