Date of Award

5-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

John D. Auxier II

Committee Members

Howard L. Hall, Lawrence H. Heilbronn

Abstract

Extensive research has been conducted to characterize trinitite to glean information about the physics associated with a nuclear blast. This information is particularly important to the nuclear forensics field which seeks to improve its ability to analyze post-blast debris and determine weapon characteristics. Key to this effort is the production of surrogate nuclear melt glass which can be used to create certified reference materials, improve forensics methods, and train emergency response teams. Several methods for producing surrogate melt glass currently exist and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Most of the production methods currently employed utilize small enclosed areas to heat the surrogate materials. One limitation of these methods is that they do not provide the aerodynamic fallout effects associated with a near surface burst. The purpose of this project is to assess the suitability of a new method for surrogate melt glass production using a continuous plasma torch within a large containment vessel. Vital to this effort is measuring the temperature of the plasma which was accomplished through spectroscopy. This work sets a foundation for further implementations of this torch and containment vessel system to develop various surrogate nuclear melt glass samples. Initial work has been conducted to determine the temperature of the plasma at two elevations and multiple elemental compositions and demonstrates that the torch is a viable method for producing surrogate nuclear debris.

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