High Resolution Digital Imaging Platform for NDE Transient Testing

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0011880
Agency Tracking Number: 212601
Amount: $224,999.75
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2014
Solicitation Year: 2014
Solicitation Topic Code: 20a
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001046
Small Business Information
44 Hunt Street, Watertown, MA, 02472-4699
DUNS: 073804411
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Vivek Nagarkar
 () -
Business Contact
 Louise Johnson
Title: Ms.
Phone: (617) 668-6811
Email: ljohnson@rmdinc.com
Research Institution
Neutron radiography using the foil-film transfer method is currently employed for the quantitative evaluation of the geometric and compositional characteristics of nuclear fuel burn-up distribution, visualization of cracks and void formations, fuel location determination, pellet-clad and pellet-pellet gaps identification, and to understand the state of non-fuel component geometries. Although the foil-film transfer method is gamma insensitive and provides large area high spatial resolution radiographs, this process takes significant time to produce an image, which is impractical for neutron tomography. Tomographic reconstruction would allow 3D visualization of multidirectional cracks within the fuel pellets and identify density and/or burnup variations through the fuel rods. A large area digital detector that can simultaneously provide high spatial resolution and rapid response, and can operate in a harsh radiation environment is needed to accomplish these tasks. We propose to develop a novel solid-state neutron imaging detector that will allow realization of an advanced Non Destructive Evaluation (NDE) system to evaluate the geometric and compositional characteristics of fuel, including disrupted fuel, prior to disassembly. The detector we propose is insensitive to gamma radiation, offers high sensitivity to thermal neutrons, has fast temporal response, is able to image highly-radioactive specimens with high spatial resolution, and can withstand intense mixed radiation environments. Low cost modular design and easy scalability to realize very large active areas are other attractive features of the proposed detector. The goal of the Phase I research is to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a semiconductor neutron radiography detector. Several research tasks will be performed to establish the efficacy of our approach. These will include simulations to predict the device performance in the presence of intense background radiation, and to design a sensor that will enhance the device efficiency for incident neutrons. The readout circuitry and associated data acquisition hardware and software will be developed and the resulting prototype detector will be tested to demonstrate its sensitivity to neutrons, insensitivity to gamma radiation, high resolution imaging capability, and its ability to operate in a harsh radiation environment. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Large area neutron detectors with fast timing, high spatial resolution, and high efficiency for neutrons are needed for numerous applications ranging from non-destructive testing to baggage scanning at entry ports. Such detectors will be used for conducting materials research in medicine, energy, and transportation at facilities worldwide including at DOEs Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and at the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering Center (LANCE). The Department of Homeland Securitys (DHS), Department of Defenses (DOD), and DOEs future deployments of radiation detection portal monitors will benefit from the proposed development.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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