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Open Access Publications from the University of California

PGAA/NAA analysis with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) D+D neutron generator

  • Author(s): Firestone, R.B.
  • English, G.A.
  • Perry, D.L.
  • Reijonen, J.P.
  • Gicquel, F.M.
  • Basunia, S.
  • Leung, K.N.
  • Garabedian, G.F.
  • Bandong, B.B.
  • Molnar, G.L.
  • Szentmiklosi, L.
  • Revay, Zs.
  • et al.

Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (PGAA) at nuclear reactors has undergone a renaissance with the advent of modern spectroscopy equipment, development of a precise database for PGAA analysis, and the development of guided neutron beams and remote target facilities far from the reactor core. PGAA at these facilities is complemented by short-lived Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) because decay gamma rays are observed either simultaneously with prompt gamma rays or separately if the neutron beam is chopped. Activities with half-lives as short as 1 ms can now be analyzed with NAA. Sensitivity of less than 0.1 mg/g of any element except Helium has been achieved with a 106 ncm-2s-1 thermal neutron beam. This kind of analysis has so far been limited to a handful of reactor facilities around the world. At Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) we are developing a PGAA/NAA analysis system based on a compact, low power, >4'109 n/s D+D (En>2.5 MeV) neutron generator. The generator creates minimal gamma-ray background so detectors can be placed close to the target where the neutron flux is comparable to the guided neutron beam at a reactor. A D+D generator requires less thickness of moderator to thermalize neutrons than a conventional D+T (En>14 MeV) generator and eliminates the environmental and political concerns raised by using tritium. This paper discusses our initial PGAA/NAA experimental results for the LBNL neutron generator and future plans to develop reactor-quality PGAA/NAA analysis in the laboratory.

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