21-25 June 2021
Clarion Congress Hotel Prague
Europe/Prague timezone
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The ENEA Neutron Active Interrogation system: from prototype to the industrial implementation

Not scheduled
3rd floor (Clarion Congress Hotel Prague)

3rd floor

Clarion Congress Hotel Prague

Freyova 945/33, 190 00 Prague 9 - Vysočany
Oral presentation 07 Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Safeguards and Homeland Security




In 2013, the ENEA Agency (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development) was involved in the EU FP7 EDEN (End-user DEmo for cbrNe) Project to designing and prototyping a new device for improving CBRNe resilience. The instrument is the Neutron Active Interrogation (NAI) system. Its purpose is the non-destructive inspection of samples suspected of containing fissile or fertile material, and explosives. The operating principle of NAI is an active neutron interrogation technique coupled with the Differential Die-Away time Analysis. Fast neutrons emitted by a neutron source, namely a portable Deuterium-Tritium neutron generator, thermalize in a moderator; if fissile material is present in the inspected sample, induced fission events on fissile material generate fission neutrons that can be detected by the NAI system. The difference between the die-away time of 14 MeV interrogation neutrons and prompt fission neutrons allows the fissile material to be detected. The original experimental setup was tested on the field during the live demo, open to the public, at the EDEN Project Demonstration occurred in September 2015 at ENEA Frascati Research Centre in Rome.

Over the years, several upgrades have been identified and implemented on the initial prototype to improve its detection performances, both in terms of detection time and detectable amount of fissile. The current prototype is transportable and able to detect 2 g of $^{235}$U contained in a sample with maximum dimensions of about 8 cm x 31 cm x 28 cm in about 2 minutes.

Currently, the upgrade program for taking NAI to a near-industrial production level, includes the following objectives:

  1. enlarging the neutron interrogation cavity for detecting the presence of fissile material in a sample comparable in size to that of a large luggage;

  2. reducing the minimum detectable quantity of fissile material;

  3. reducing the weight of the device for enhancing transportability;

  4. reducing the time needed for the detection of the dangerous material;

  5. quantitatively relating the recorded signal to the fissile mass present in the sample, independently from the matrix in which the fissile material is incorporated.

The feasibility study which the improvement of NAI prototype is based on will be presented. Such a study is based on a thorough campaign of Monte Carlo simulations by means of MCNPX (Monte Carlo N-Particle eXtended).

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