Standard Historical Last Updated: Oct 10, 2019
ASTM E704-13

Standard Test Method for Measuring Reaction Rates by Radioactivation of Uranium-238

Significance and Use

5.1 Refer to Practice E261 for a general discussion of the determination of fast-neutron fluence rate with fission detectors.

5.2 238U is available as metal foil, wire, or oxide powder (see Guide E844). It is usually encapsulated in a suitable container to prevent loss of, and contamination by, the 238U and its fission products.

5.3 One or more fission products can be assayed. Pertinent data for relevant fission products are given in Table 1 and Table 2.

5.3.1 137Cs-137mBa is chosen frequently for long irradiations. Radioactive products 134Cs and 136Cs may be present, which can interfere with the counting of the 0.662 MeV  137Cs-137mBa gamma rays (see Test Methods E320).

5.3.2 140Ba-140La is chosen frequently for short irradiations (see Test Method E393).

5.3.3 95Zr can be counted directly, following chemical separation, or with its daughter 95Nb using a high-resolution gamma detector system.

5.3.4 144Ce is a high-yield fission product applicable to 2- to 3-year irradiations.

5.4 It is necessary to surround the 238U monitor with a thermal neutron absorber to minimize fission product production from a quantity of 235U in the 238U target and from  239Pu from (n,γ) reactions in the 238U material. Assay of the 239Pu concentration when a significant contribution is expected.

5.4.1 Fission product production in a light-water reactor by neutron activation product 239Pu has been calculated to be insignificant (<2 %), compared to that from 238U(n,f), for an irradiation period of 12 years at a fast-neutron (E > 1 MeV) fluence rate of 1 × 1011 cm−2 · s−1 provided the 238U is shielded from thermal neutrons (see Fig. 2 of Guide E844).

5.4.2 Fission product production from photonuclear reactions, that is, (γ,f) reactions, while negligible near-power and research-reactor cores, can be large for deep-water penetrations (1).4

5.5 Good agreement between neutron fluence measured by 238U fission and the 54Fe(n,p)54Mn reaction has been demonstrated (2). The reaction  238U(n,f) F.P. is useful since it is responsive to a broader range of neutron energies than most threshold detectors.

5.6 The 238U fission neutron spectrum-averaged cross section in several benchmark neutron fields is given in Table 3 of Practice E261. Sources for the latest recommended cross sections are given in Guide E1018. In the case of the 238U(n,f)F.P. reaction, the recommended cross section source is the ENDF/B-VI release 8 cross section (MAT = 9237) (3). Fig. 1 shows a plot of the recommended cross section versus neutron energy for the fast-neutron reaction 238U(n,f)F.P.

Note 1The data is taken from the Evaluated Nuclear Data File, ENDF/B-VI, rather than the later ENDF/B-VII. This is in accordance with Guide E1018, Section 6.1, since the later ENDF/B-VII data files do not include covariance information. Some covariance information exists for 238U in the standard sublibrary, but this is only for energies greater than 1 MeV. For more details, see Section H of Ref 4.


1.1 This test method covers procedures for measuring reaction rates by assaying a fission product (F.P.) from the fission reaction 238U(n,f)F.P.

1.2 The reaction is useful for measuring neutrons with energies from approximately 1.5 to 7 MeV and for irradiation times up to 30 to 40 years.

1.3 Equivalent fission neutron fluence rates as defined in Practice E261 can be determined.

1.4 Detailed procedures for other fast-neutron detectors are referenced in Practice E261.

1.5 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

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 and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

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Book of Standards Volume: 12.02
Developed by Subcommittee: E10.05
Pages: 4
DOI: 10.1520/E0704-13
ICS Code: 17.240; 27.120.30