Standard Active Last Updated: Jul 09, 2019
ASTM C1880-19

Standard Practice for Sampling Gaseous Uranium Hexafluoride using Alumina Pellets

Significance and Use

5.1 Facility operators and safeguards inspectors routinely take UF6 samples from processing lines, isotopic enrichment cascades or storage cylinders to determine its U isotopic composition, most important the n(235U)/n(238U) isotope ratio, needed to calculate the amount of the fissile 235U in the sample. The current version of the “International Target Values for Measurement Uncertainties in Safeguarding Nuclear Materials” (3) contains recommended guidelines for these measurements.

5.2 The conventional sampling practice collects UF6 samples in the range of 1-10 g and requires the use of liquid nitrogen to condense them in sample vessels, metallic bottles or P-10 tubes. These samples must then be transported to external analytical laboratories for verification of the declared data, especially the isotope ratios. Transport includes, among other things, public roads and intercontinental air shipment. Due to the hazards of UF6, air transport is becoming increasingly difficult, with many transport operators and regulators refusing to carry the material.

5.3 This sampling practice was developed to meet the following requirements:

5.3.1 Fit for Purpose: to enable the verification of the declarations of amounts of nuclear materials.

5.3.2 Simplicity: to ensure a simple and fast execution.

5.3.3 Flexibility: to be applied in a wide range of facilities.

5.3.4 Robustness: to ensure sufficient material is sampled even when operational parameters slightly change.

5.3.5 Reliability: to provide measurement results in agreement with those obtained using the conventional sampling practice.

5.3.6 Confidentiality: to respect the facility’s operational procedure and confidentiality of data.

5.3.7 Safety: to reduce the risks associated with the sampling, handling and transport of radioactive and hazardous materials.

5.4 This sampling practice offers significant advantages over the conventional sampling practice because it allows handling non-reactive, non-volatile, solid UO2F2 instead of highly reactive and volatile UF6.

5.5 A smaller UO2F2 sample can be transported with lower radioactivity level and reduced radiological problems in case of accident. Additionally, there is no risk of airborne uranium particle and HF release.

5.6 The U isotope ratios measured in UF6 sampled by the conventional and this sampling practice provide measurement results which are in good agreement within the stated uncertainties (4, 5).

5.7 It is strongly recommended to discard used P-10 tubes to avoid the possibility of isotopic cross contamination, mainly because this practice is associated with the processing of very small amounts of U.

5.8 In case recycled P-10 tubes are used, a very efficient and reliable cleaning procedure must be employed to assure a complete removal of U from the P-10 tube inner surfaces.

5.9 This practice provides guidance to obtain samples for determining the U composition for material nuclear safeguards as well as other applications. Such samples should not be used for determining compliance with Specifications C787 and C996. For these cases, the recommendations of Practices C1052 or C1703 must be followed.

5.10 The test methods describing procedures for subsampling, mass spectrometric, spectrochemical, nuclear, and radiochemical analysis of uranium hexafluoride are presented in Test Methods C761. Most of them are routinely used to determine the compliance with Specifications C787 and C996.


1.1 This practice is applicable to sampling gaseous uranium hexafluoride (UF6) from processing facilities, isotope enrichment cascades or storage cylinders, using the sorbent properties of aluminum oxide (Al2O3).

1.2 It is based on the ‘ABACC-Cristallini Method’ (1, 2)2 and is intended to be used for the determination of uranium (U) isotopic composition required for nuclear material safeguards as well as other applications.

1.3 The application of this practice assures the resulting sample vessel contains no UF6 and hydrogen fluoride (HF); therefore, it may be handled and categorized for transport under less stringent constraints.

1.4 The scope of this practice does not include provisions for preventing criticality.

1.5 Units—The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. When non-SI units are provided, they are for information only.

1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.7 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 12.01
Developed by Subcommittee: C26.02
Pages: 6
DOI: 10.1520/C1880-19
ICS Code: 27.120.30