Efficient, Portable Radioxenon Collection for Nuclear Test Monitoring

Samuele Sangiorgio | 19-FS-016


Detection of radioxenon in the atmosphere is considered the most specific method to determine whether a nuclear test has occurred, making it an important component of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty verification regime. Radioxenon collection is primarily performed by means of a network of remote monitoring stations at fixed locations around the world. This arrangement is effective but often limited in terms of response time and sensitivity—two factors that could be improved if radioxenon collection devices were portable. The availability of a smaller and portable xenon collection device would potentially enlarge the network of sampling stations, providing denser coverage with more accurate results.

Our work established an initial modeling and scoping study advancing towards development of an efficient and portable radioxenon collection system for nuclear test monitoring. We employed recent advancements in porous materials and adsorption technologies to confirm that some limitations of current radioxenon collection systems may be overcome. By quantifying the amount of required adsorbent material and developing a realistic engineering sketch for a device, we have made significant steps towards demonstrating the viability of an efficient and portable radioxenon collection device.

Impact on Mission

Our research enhances Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's capabilities in field monitoring of radionuclide gases originating from nuclear testing and supports the Laboratory's mission focus area in nuclear threat reduction. Improved monitoring technology and an expanded sampling network would increase sensitivity, turn-around speed, and confidence on a key component of nuclear test monitoring and verification programs.