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Evaluating laser-driven Bremsstrahlung radiation sources for imaging and analysis of nuclear waste packages

Jones, Christoper P. and Brenner, Ceri M. and Stitt, Camilla A. and Armstrong, Chris and Rusby, Dean R. and Mirfayzi, Seyed R. and Wilson, Lucy A. and Alejo, Aarón and Ahmed, Hamad and Allott, Ric and Butler, Nicholas M. H. and Clarke, Robert J. and Haddock, David and Hernandez-Gomez, Cristina and Higginson, Adam and Murphy, Christopher and Notley, Margaret and Paraskevoulakos, Charilaos and Jowsey, John and McKenna, Paul and Neely, David and Kar, Satya and Scott, Thomas B. (2016) Evaluating laser-driven Bremsstrahlung radiation sources for imaging and analysis of nuclear waste packages. Journal of Hazardous Materials. ISSN 0304-3894

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A small scale sample nuclear waste package, consisting of a 28 mm diameter uranium penny encased in grout, was imaged by absorption contrast radiography using a single pulse exposure from an X-ray source driven by a high-power laser. The Vulcan laser was used to deliver a focused pulse of photons to a tantalum foil, in order to generate a bright burst of highly penetrating X-rays (with energy >500 keV), with a source size of <0.5 mm. BAS-TR and BAS-SR image plates were used for image capture, alongside a newly developed Thalium doped Caesium Iodide scintillator-based detector coupled to CCD chips. The uranium penny was clearly resolved to sub-mm accuracy over a 30 cm2scan area from a single shot acquisition. In addition, neutron generation was demonstrated in situ with the X-ray beam, with a single shot, thus demonstrating the potential for multi-modal criticality testing of waste materials. This feasibility study successfully demonstrated non-destructive radiography of encapsulated, high density, nuclear material. With recent developments of high-power laser systems, to 10 Hz operation, a laser-driven multi-modal beamline for waste monitoring applications is envisioned.