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Proceedings Paper

Detection of nuclear material by photon activation inside cargo containers
Author(s): Mehdi Gmar; Eric Berthoumieux; Sébastien Boyer; Frédérick Carrel; Diane Doré; Marie-Laure Giacri; Frédéric Lainé; Bénédicte Poumarède; Danas Ridikas; Aymeric Van Lauwe
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Paper Abstract

Photons with energies above 6 MeV can be used to detect small amounts of nuclear material inside large cargo containers. The method consists in using an intense beam of high-energy photons (bremsstrahlung radiation) in order to induce reactions of photofission on actinides. The measurement of delayed neutrons and delayed gammas emitted by fission products brings specific information on localization and quantification of the nuclear material. A simultaneous measurement of both of these delayed signals can overcome some important limitations due to matrix effects like heavy shielding and/or the presence of light elements as hydrogen. We have a long experience in the field of nuclear waste package characterization by photon interrogation and we have demonstrated that presently the detection limit can be less than one gram of actinide per ton of package. Recently we tried to extend our knowledge to assess the performance of this method for the detection of special nuclear materials in sea and air freights. This paper presents our first results based on experimental measurements carried out in the SAPHIR facility, which houses a linear electron accelerator with the energy range from 15 MeV to 30 MeV. Our experiments were also modeled using the full scale Monte Carlo techniques. In addition, and in a more general frame, due to the lack of consistent data on photonuclear reactions, we have been working on the development of a new photonuclear activation file (PAF), which includes cross sections for more than 600 isotopes including photofission fragment distributions and delayed neutron tables for actinides. Therefore, this work includes also some experimental results obtained at the ELSA electron accelerator, which is more adapted for precise basic nuclear data measurements.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 May 2006
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 6213, Non-Intrusive Inspection Technologies, 62130F (30 May 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.665571
Show Author Affiliations
Mehdi Gmar, CEA Saclay (France)
Eric Berthoumieux, CEA Saclay (France)
Sébastien Boyer, CEA Saclay (France)
Frédérick Carrel, CEA Saclay (France)
Diane Doré, CEA Saclay (France)
Marie-Laure Giacri, CEA Saclay (France)
Frédéric Lainé, CEA Saclay (France)
Bénédicte Poumarède, CEA Saclay (France)
Danas Ridikas, CEA Saclay (France)
Aymeric Van Lauwe, CEA Saclay (France)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6213:
Non-Intrusive Inspection Technologies
George Vourvopoulos; F. Patrick Doty, Editor(s)

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