Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Plutonium Calorimetric Assay

Learn about concepts associated with assay of plutonium using calorimetry.


Wheatstone bridge


This course covers:
  • Principles and applications of heat-flow calorimeters for determining the thermal power emitted from plutonium
  • High-resolution gamma-ray measurements for calculating isotopic composition and specific power
  • Conversion of measured thermal power into an assay result
  • Techniques to increase calorimeter throughput
  • Development and application of heat standards and measurement control

The course is composed of lectures that describe underlying theories followed by hands-on laboratory measurements on calorimetric assay techniques for plutonium assay.

 Plutonium thumb   Download the Brochure

Target Audience

Individuals that perform, manage, or supervise measurements involving calorimetry. Auditors, regulators, and policy makers may also benefit from attending this course.


To provide participants a comprehensive background in the theory and application of the calorimetric assay of plutonium bearing items.


  • Fundamental principles and applications of heat-flow calorimeters
  • Operation of calorimeters
  • Isotopic composition measurements for determination of specific power
  • Calorimetry measurement control program
  • Analysis of assay results.

NDA Equipment Covered: Twin Bridge Calorimeter, Wheatstone bridge sensor.

Course Prerequisites

Previous Course Title: Nondestructive Assay of Special Nuclear Material Holdup Training School (MCA-243)


3 days

Typical Course Format

The  Plutonium Calorimetric Assay Training Course will meet at 8:30 AM on:

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 (February 2021 Course)

Monday, June 28, 2021 (June 2021 Course)

at TA-66, Bldg 1, Conference Room A101.

Course schedule: 

Tuesday - Thursday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

Monday - Wednesday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

A schedule will be provided on the first day of the course. Coffee, tea, and water will be available during the morning and afternoon breaks.  An option for attending a no-host lunch at the training site will be provided for all students. The anticipated cost for these lunches will be approximately $5-10/person. The money will be collected on the day the lunch is served.

We will be entering into the laboratory to perform some measurements. For safety purposes, please be sure to wear closed toe shoes.