The Potential of Photon Activation and Neutron Activation Techniques for Fast Soil Characterization
VINCI Construction Terrassement, Nanterre, France
VINCI Construction Grands Projets, Rueil-Malmaison, France
Published online: 20 January 2020
In the frame of a partnership between CEA and VINCI, various measurement techniques are applied to soil analysis and tested in different laboratories located at CEA Saclay (France). This paper deals with two nuclear measurement techniques assessed in this project. More specifically, this paper presents the feasibility study carried out for two non-destructive active methods: photon activation and neutron activation. First, some atomic nuclides are activated either by photons or neutrons. Secondly, gamma-rays of specific energies are emitted by activated nuclides and gamma-ray spectrometry enables to identify these activated nuclides. Calibration of the full measurement system with reference samples would enable to quantify the mass of activated nuclides. Irradiations performed for photon activation measurements were conducted using a linear electron accelerator (linac) as the latter enables to generate high-energy photons by Bremsstrahlung thanks to its conversion target. Furthermore, irradiations performed for neutron activation measurements were also conducted with a linac. Indeed, photons may be converted to neutrons by photonuclear reactions using a secondary target. In the frame of this project, experiments were carried out at the SAPHIR platform (CEA Saclay) with a Linatron-M9 VARIAN linac. The electron energy was either 6 or 9 MeV. For neutron activation measurements, a secondary target made of heavy water has been used as neutron source and a polyethylene cell enabled to thermalize neutrons and increase the number of reactions of interest. In this paper, we present the different experimental setups and the measurement protocols established for this feasibility study. We show experimental results obtained with raw material samples coming from three construction sites.
Key words: photon activation / neutron activation / linear electron accelerator (linac) / gamma spectrometry / prompt gamma-rays / delayed gamma-rays / soil characterization
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.