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Radiographic Inspection of Heavy Metals Containers


Development of Prototype System for Neutron Radiographic Control of Heavy Metal Containers

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-MEA/Measuring Instruments/Instrumentation
  • INF-IMA/High-Definition Imaging and Displays/Information and Communications
  • INF-SIG/Sensors and Signal Processing/Information and Communications
  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
All-Russian Research Institute of Automatics, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • ITEF (ITEP), Russia, Moscow\nFIAN Lebedev, Russia, Moscow


  • University of New Brunswick / Department of Mechanical Engineering, Canada, NB, Fredericton\nLawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore\nPhysikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Germany, Braunschweig

Project summary

The goal of the project is development of a prototype system including methods and hardware for neutron radiographic control of containers used for transportation of radioisotope sources, fissile and radioactive materials to prevent unauthorized movements of dangerous or forbidden materials or articles through national and international check points.

To attain the project goal it is proposed to develop the equipment based on portable fast neutron generator, effective digital detector of neutron images and special software.

The suggested approach is based on high penetration ability of fast neutrons, conditioned by low cross-sections of neutron absorption and scattering in materials forming the composition of above articles. Radiography enables to recognize configuration of an item found in container, evaluate dimensions of the whole item and its separate parts, as well as to calculate the contrast between different fragments of radiographic image.

Need for equipment like this is conditioned by real possibility of unauthorized transportation of dangerous cargo (explosives, chemicals, active substances and drugs, radioactive and fissile materials, weapons etc.), calling for rapid instrumental control of cargo movements in cases when other methods are not effective.

To realize the project high-skilled scientific personnel of VNIIA, FIAN and ITEF will be employed.

All-Russian Research Institute of Automatics is a leading Russian institution engaged in development and manufacture of pulsed neutron generators. About 20 types of industrial and research generators (12 types are series-produced) have been developed in VNIIA over 45 year activity in the field of creation of portable neutron generators on the basis of sealed neutron tubes and plasma focus chamber. VNIIA activities are not limited to creation of neutron generators. Measuring equipment for scientific and technical applications and generator-driven technologies, including radiography and tomography on fast and thermal neutrons and accompanying X-radiation of portable generator, are being intensively developed.

Physical Institute is engaged in complex studies in the field of physical and quantum optics. It possesses a unique experimental basis and many years’ experience in application of systems for detection of weak optical signals, including cosmic ones. The Institute is developing new detection systems, advanced materials and methods for radiation detection in wide wave-length range. FIAN is much experienced in creation of modern software packages for image processing, visualization and storing. Optical and electronic equipment for multifarious research has been developed. The Institute specialists are able to perform precision model calculations.

Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics is a multi-activity research and education center. Subjects of investigation of ITEF scientists are fundamental properties of substance and their application to development of new technologies, especially clean energy sources, energy-efficient equipment, telecommunication and medicine.

Main branches of research: theoretical and mathematical physics, astrophysics, elementary-particle (high-energy) physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics, solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, reactor and accelerator physics, medical physics, information technologies.

ITEF specialists take part in creation of the largest detectors in the world, such as CMS and ALICE in CERN. They are sufficiently experienced in development of measuring systems including tens of thousands of channels with application of fiber-optic reading system and silicon photomultipliers, providing high reliability and lower price of detectors. ITEF specialists are also experienced in development of high-sensitive detectors of penetrating radiation, including fast neutrons.

Expected results:

The following main results will be achieved under the project:

  • technique based on portable equipment for neutron radiographic control of contents of heavy-metal containers;
  • experimental prototype system including methods and hardware for radiographic control of heavy-metal containers in conditions of real check points;
  • comparative analysis of technical characteristics of radiographic control with application of advanced systems for making large-scale images: Imaging Plates, large CCD-detectors and matrix detectors based on silicon photomultipliers;
  • experimental data on radiographic control of presence of dangerous items, obtained on the base of the system testing with simulators and real objects;
  • software for expert decision making about correspondence of container contents to declared ones;
  • equipment and methods to assure radiation safety of control procedure;

Results of the project will contribute to solution of the problem of effective control of unauthorized transportation of dangerous cargo.

Results of the project will contribute to GNEP and other advanced fuel cycle initiatives where radiographic validation of container contents in storage and transportation of fissile material throughout the fuel cycle is critical.

Foreign collaborators

It is proposed to carry out the project activities under the General ISTC Programs program. New Brunswick University, Canada, gave its consent to act as collaborator under the project. In the framework of scientific and technical collaboration with foreign collaborators it is planned to exchange the relevant information, to discuss the achieved results and develop proposals on introduction. When working under the project it is planned to issue joint publications and make joint presentations at seminars and conferences.

Meeting ISTC goals and objectives

The project implementation meets ISTC goals and objectives, supports military conversion and involvement of the Russian scientists and specialists in the international scientific and technical community. The activities under the project will be carried out by VNIIA and ITEF specialists who were involved in the past in development of nuclear weapons test equipment.

The project is aimed at support of fundamental and applied research and development of peaceful technologies in the area of control of transportation of dangerous materials, including nuclear and fissile materials.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


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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