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Neutron Technology for Mine Identification


Development of Experimental Model of Portable Device for Identification of Explosives Hidden in Soil and Buildings by Tagged Neutron Technology

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment
  • FIR-INS/Nuclear Instrumentation/Fission Reactors
  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Kurchatov Research Center, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • All-Russian Research Institute of Automatics, Russia, Moscow\nTbilisi State University, Georgia, Tbilisi


  • Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), Korea, Yuseong

Project summary

The mine fields cause the potential threat to millions of people. The disuse of wastes territories and efforts on their clearance lead to sufficient economic expenses. The complexity of mine clearance is stipulated by a great persity of explosive objects (EO) and their location. The experts believe that the mine clearance should be executed in 2 stages:
  • Detection of EO with metal detectors and ground penetrating radars, and marking the potentially dangerous objects.
  • Identification of explosives in EO without replacement of EO.

One of the ways of high explosives (HE) identification is the determination of ratios of concentration of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen of the examined substance. For explosives, these ratios are found in very narrow range far beyond the same ratios of common (innocent) materials. It makes very promising the application of gamma- neutrons technologies for elemental analysis based on the effects of interactions of gamma-rays or neutrons with the nuclei of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. Currently, more then 20 various gamma- neutron technologies of explosives detection were advertised. However, up to now they have not been used in real practice. One of the main reason is the strong background radiation (from surrounding soil) much exceeding the effect (information radiation).

The authors of the project suggest using the explosives identification device based on tagged neutron technology. This technology is based on the simultaneous recording of inpidual neutrons moving towards the object and gamma-rays emitted from the object by neutron impact. It is achieved by position and time sensitive alpha-detector for measuring time and direction of neutron escape by associated alpha-particle, ultra-fast gamma-detector and electronics providing the nanosecond time resolution.

The aims of this project include developing the experimental model of device based on tagged neutron technology for HE identification and getting the required data for developing the pilot portable device for humanitarian demining. It, in turn, requires the simulation of gamma-neutron transfer and recording of alpha- and gamma- radiation; choice of the construction and development of the portable neutron generator, alpha- and gamma-detector; development of the compact data acquisition system; modeling the imitators of HE and EO, development of the test-bench and software, and experimental simulation of the device operation.

The scientists and specialists previously worked on the development and testing of nuclear weapon will be involved in the project with the best use of their qualification and experience. Among them, there are nine Doctors of Philosophy (PhD).

The specialist from the leading institution (RRC “Kurchatov Institute”) have a strong experience in design, development, and investigation of various electrophysical and nuclear physical equipment. The experimental units for tagged neutron technology have been devised. The Participant Institution 1 (All-Russia Research Institute of Automatics) is the only organization in Russia in full possessing the technology of development of portable neutron generators for various purposes, as well as strong experience of development of various equipment based on them. The Participant Institution 2 (Tbilisi State University) is experienced in numerical simulation of radiation transfer and development of nuclear detectors.

The project will result in development of device for explosives identification having the sensitivity, throughput, identification possibility and false alarm rate much better then existing devices based on neutron technology. The main potential users of the project results are institutions participating in humanitarian demining and terrorist atack prevention. Moreover, the project results can be used for development of technologies of remote gamma- neutron control. The project will have sufficient commercial perspectives since the efficient demining means is in great demand.

The project meets ISTC Goals and Objectives as far as the majority of participants were previously linked to the development of weapon of mass destruction. The project will lead to their re-orientation to the area of peaceful industrial researches.

The authors are sure that the results of the project will be also used in the similar works of foreign collaborators on the same subject-matter. The following forms of cooperation are planned: common use of the experimental installation; optimization of hardware implementation; marketing; independent verification of the results; information support of the work; discussions on the current and similar works.


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ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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