Cargo Inspection System for Special Nuclear Materials

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Approximately 20 million cargo containers pass through United States ports each year. The search for sub-kilogram amounts of special nuclear materials (SNM) within the total cargo volume is a complex problem. Special nuclear materials include plutonium, uranium, and thorium. Existing methods of detection are inadequate to the needs of monitoring due to the precision with which the SNM must be located within the cargo, the exactness with which the threat must be identified, and limited time allowed for searching.

Purdue University researchers have developed a neutron based cargo inspection system that will allow for improved detection of SNM. Other methods rely on delayed gamma ray and neutron production, but this technology uses prompt gamma rays, which are one hundred times stronger, allowing reduced neutron production, thus reducing the radiation levels on the cargo. High purity uranium detectors require expensive, radiation intolerant, low solid angle coverage, while this technology does not. This method is also capable of distinguishing U-238 and U-235.

-Lowers radiation levels on the cargo
-Distinguishes U-238 and U-235 while imaging the location of the SNM within a cargo container

Potential Applications:
-Nuclear Materials
Oct 14, 2009
Utility Patent
United States
Feb 12, 2013

Oct 14, 2008
United States
Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization
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