Working with Oregon State University, Jason Hayward is working to improve the accuracy and reduce the cost of monitoring the massive amounts of plutonium that are housed in nuclear facilities. Hayward’s team hopes to use cosmic ray muons, a type of particle, to do this.
“Cosmic ray muons are so highly penetrating that they have been used to image hidden chambers within pyramids or predict eruptions inside volcanoes,” said Hayward. “In our case, we can use our knowledge of their physics to develop a system with the capability of verifying and measuring the content inside a dry storage cask without opening it.”
Hayward said that such a breakthrough could have a massive impact on nuclear energy and safety worldwide, since teams could more easily track nuclear fuel.