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Modeling Passive Fast-neutron Emission Tomography of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Publication Type
Conference Paper
Journal Name
International workshop on numerical modelling of NDA instruments and methods for nuclear safeguards
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 8
Conference Name
International Workshop on Numerical Modeling of NDA Instrumentation and Methods for Nuclear Safeguards
Conference Location
Luxemburg City, Luxembourg
Conference Sponsor
Conference Date

For the past year Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been developing a passive fast-neutron emission tomography capability. Like the passive gamma emission tomography capability presently being evaluated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the goal of this capability is to detect the removal or substitution of individual fuel pins in spent nuclear fuel assemblies for international safeguards applications, such as verifying the integrity of an assembly before transfer to difficult-to-access storage. The present imaging technique is based on neutron emissions originating primarily from curium-244, which is produced predominantly at the end of the exposure cycle. As a result, this technique may be sensitive not only to fuel pins that are removed or substituted subsequent to all irradiation, but also to fuel pins that are substituted and subsequently irradiated. At present, a laboratory prototype imager is under construction. The purpose of the prototype is to demonstrate an imaging capability sufficient to resolve individual fuel pins using commercially available boron straw detectors that can withstand the high gamma ray dose from a typical spent fuel assembly. To achieve both practical measurement durations and sufficient resolution to discern individual pins, the prototype imager employs a novel collimator design where the slits of a parallel-slit collimator are rearranged to distribute them around a ring surrounding the target fuel assembly. This presentation will report on simulations to understand the neutron signal-to-noise ratio and gamma dose rate as a function of the collimator design, the neutron detector’s response to gamma rays as a function of dose rate, and image reconstruction challenges associated with this collimator design.