Comparison of portable detectors for uranium enrichment measurements

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Uranium enrichment and holdup measurements require a detector capable of accurately obtaining the 186-keV peak area. NaI detectors have been widely used for these tasks. However, for recycled uranium, the interference of the 239-keV peak from the 232U decay chain challenges the capabilities of the NaI detectors to accurately extract the area of the 186-keV peak. Using CZT detectors, which have much better resolution than the NaI detectors, has temporarily solved this interference problem. However, the CZT detectors have setbacks in that they are generally small and have low efficiencies, which require long acquisition times for reasonable statistics. Recently, two new types of scintillator detectors have become available commercially, LaCl3(Ce) and LaBr3(Ce). These cerium-doped lanthanum halide detectors, with comparable resolution but better efficiency than the CZT detectors, appear to permanently solve the interference problem for recycled uranium measurements. In this report, we compare the uranium enrichment measurement performances of a portable NaI detector, a large coplanar-grid CZT detector, and a LaBr3 detector.

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