In this current study, the molten salt aerosol-laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) system was used to measure the uranium (U) content in a ternary UCl3-LiCl-KCl salt to investigate and assess a near real-time analytical approach for material safeguards and accountability. Experiments were conducted using five different U concentrations to determine the analytical figures of merit for the system with respect to U. In the analysis, three U lines were used to develop univariate calibration curves at the 367.01 nm, 385.96 nm, and 387.10 nm lines. The 367.01 nm line had the lowest limit of detection (LOD) of 0.065 wt% U. The 385.96 nm line had the best root mean square error of cross-validation (RMSECV) of 0.20 wt% U. In addition to the univariate calibration approach, a multivariate partial least squares (PLS) model was developed to further analyze the data. Using partial least squares (PLS) modeling, an RMSECV of 0.085 wt% U was determined. The RMSECV from the multivariate approach was significantly better than the univariate case and the PLS model is recommended for future LIBS analysis. Overall, the aerosol-LIBS system performed well in monitoring the U concentration and it is expected that the system could be used to quantitatively determine the U compositions within the normal operational concentrations of U in pyroprocessing molten salts.
Keywords: LIBS; Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; nuclear safeguards; process monitoring; pyroprocessing; uranium.