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Abstract  

Uranium and thorium mixed oxides are being prepared using natural U and Th for studies on fuels for Advanced Heavy Water Reactors, wherein composition of U and Th is specific and requires strict control in terms their contents and homogeneity. Chemical quality control necessitates accurate and precise compositional characterization of the fuel material by a suitable analytical method. Among various analytical methods for U and Th, instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) is one of the best methods for their simultaneous determination without chemical dissolution and separation. INAA methods using reactor neutrons namely thermal NAA and epithermal NAA were standardized for the determination of U and Th in their mixed oxides. Standards, synthetic samples and U–Th mixed oxide samples, prepared in cellulose matrix, were irradiated at pneumatic carrier facility of Dhruva reactor as well as at self serve facility of CIRUS reactor under cadmium cover (0.5 mm). Radioactive assay was carried out using a 40% relative efficiency HPGe detector. Both activation and daughter products of 238U (239U and 239Np) and 232Th (233Th and 233Pa) were used for their concentration determination. The method was validated by analyzing synthetic samples of 6–48%U–Th mixed oxides. The standardized method was used for the concentration determination of U and Th in 4–30%U–Th mixed oxide samples. Results of U and Th concentrations including associated uncertainties obtained from the INAA methods are presented in this paper.

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