Portable High-Intensity X-Ray Source Based on a 10 MeV Superconducting Electron Linac
In the post 9/11 security environment, rapid cargo inspection has become a high priority. Cargo scanning using either radiographic imaging or active interrogation for Special Nuclear Material (SNM) requires high energy and high intensity x-rays. High intensity x-ray sources are especially important for active interrogation techniques such as photo-fission, delayed neutron & gamma measurements, pulse-shaped discrimination and Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF). The most common source of such x-rays is an electron accelerator. Existing pulsed copper accelerators can deliver high energy electrons (3-10 MeV), but have low duty cycle beams and correspondingly low average current. These low current beams limit the quality of x-ray images and SNM detection sensitivity. Furthermore, inspection systems based on copper accelerators typically weigh several tons, have a large footprint, and consume hundreds of kilowatts of electric power. As a result, these machines require a large, fixed site to operate.
Niowave, Inc. has developed an alternative--a compact, portable, high-efficiency 10 MeV superconducting electron linac with 10 kW average beam
power. This high-intensity source, evolved from linacs developed by Niowave for x-ray sterilization and free electron lasers, produces an electron beam with a 100% duty cycle. When equipped with a thin liquid metal bremsstrahlung converter, our superconducting linac generates a continuous, highenergy, high-intensity x-ray beam. Such a beam is ideal for x-ray radiography, or for initiating photonuclear reactions required for active interrogation.
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