Compton suppressed LaBr3 detection system for use in nondestructive spent fuel assay

S. Bender, B. Heidrich, K. Ünlü

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Current methods for safeguarding and accounting for spent nuclear fuel in reprocessing facilities are extremely resource and time intensive. The incorporation of autonomous passive gamma-ray detectors into the procedure could make the process significantly less burdensome. In measured gamma-ray spectra from spent nuclear fuel, the Compton continuum from dominant fission product photopeaks obscure the lower energy lines from other isotopes. The application of Compton suppression to gamma-ray measurements of spent fuel may reduce this effect and allow other less intense, lower energy peaks to be detected, potentially improving the accuracy of multivariate analysis algorithms. Compton suppressed spectroscopic measurements of spent nuclear fuel using HPGe, LaBr3, and NaI(Tl) primary detectors were performed. Irradiated fuel was measured in two configurations: as intact fuel elements viewed through a collimator and as feed solutions in a laboratory to simulate the measurement of a dissolved process stream. These two configurations allowed the direct assessment and quantification of the differences in measured gamma-ray spectra from the application of Compton suppression. In the first configuration, several irradiated fuel elements of varying cooling times from the Penn State Breazeale Reactor spent fuel inventory were measured using the three collimated Compton suppression systems. In the second geometry, Compton suppressed measurements of two samples of Approved Test Material commercial fuel elements were recorded inside the guard detector annulus to simulate the siphoning of small quantities from the main process stream for long dwell measurement periods. Compton suppression was found to improve measured gamma-ray spectra of spent fuel for multivariate analysis by notably lowering the Compton continuum from dominant photopeaks such as 137Cs and 140La, due to scattered interactions in the detector, which allowed more spectral features to be resolved. There was a significant advantage demonstrated when measurements were recorded using the beam source configuration as opposed to the standard, enclosed Compton suppression system geometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-481
Number of pages8
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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