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Title: Prompt Gamma-Ray Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) for Elemental Analysis


This research project was to improve the prompt gamma-ray neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) measurement approach for bulk analysis, oil well logging, and small sample thermal enutron bean applications.

Publication Date:
Research Org.:
North Carolina State University
Sponsoring Org.:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US200716%%235
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States

Citation Formats

Robin P. Gardner. Prompt Gamma-Ray Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) for Elemental Analysis. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.2172/882478.
Robin P. Gardner. Prompt Gamma-Ray Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) for Elemental Analysis. United States. doi:10.2172/882478.
Robin P. Gardner. Tue . "Prompt Gamma-Ray Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) for Elemental Analysis". United States. doi:10.2172/882478.
title = {Prompt Gamma-Ray Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) for Elemental Analysis},
author = {Robin P. Gardner},
abstractNote = {This research project was to improve the prompt gamma-ray neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) measurement approach for bulk analysis, oil well logging, and small sample thermal enutron bean applications.},
doi = {10.2172/882478},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Apr 11 00:00:00 EDT 2006},
month = {Tue Apr 11 00:00:00 EDT 2006}

Technical Report:

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  • This feasibility study has identified and evaluated the influence of important matrix effects which arise in the commercial application of prompt gamma/neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) methods to bulk-coal analysis as follows: neutron moderation and absorption changes; gamma-ray attenuation in the sample; sample density and volume changes. The neutron-induced capture gamma spectra were found to vary in a similar, predictable manner for all neutron absorbers found in coal such as hydrogen, boron, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. Three different models have been proposed from this study to analyze coal by PGNAA methods and account for the significant matrix effects arising from hydrogenmore » variation and other system perturbations.« less
  • This report reviews the progress accomplished during Phase I of a two-phase project intended to demonstrate the use of Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) as a technology for the characterization of hazardous and radioactive contaminants in concrete floors. A comprehensive experimental program was undertaken using the N-SCAN{trademark} PGNAA system, which was initially developed by Westinghouse for soil characterization, to determine the sensitivity of PGNAA for several contaminants in concrete. The experiments were performed in a test facility specially designed and constructed for this project. The lower limits of detection derived from the experimental data were encouraging for mercury, cadmium,more » uranium-238, thorium-232, technetium-99, chlorine, uranium-235 and chromium. These limits were achieved after modifications made to the original N-SCAN system significantly improved its sensitivity for elements located at or near the surface of concrete. With the implementation of additional performance-enhancing modifications scheduled in Phase II, the detection sensitivity of N-SCAN at the end of this project is expected to be at least one order of magnitude higher, allowing N-SCAN to become an effective characterization tool. N-SCAN has several important advantages over current characterization methods and technologies.« less
  • The normal prompt gamma-ray neutron activation analysis for either bulk or small beam samples inherently has a small signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio due primarily to the neutron source being present while the sample signal is being obtained. Coincidence counting offers the possibility of greatly reducing or eliminating the noise generated by the neutron source. The present report presents our results to date on implementing the coincidence counting PGNAA approach. We conclude that coincidence PGNAA yields: (1) a larger signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio, (2) more information (and therefore better accuracy) from essentially the same experiment when sophisticated coincidence electronics are used that canmore » yield singles and coincidences simultaneously, and (3) a reduced (one or two orders of magnitude) signal from essentially the same experiment. In future work we will concentrate on: (1) modifying the existing CEARPGS Monte Carlo code to incorporate coincidence counting, (2) obtaining coincidence schemes for 18 or 20 of the common elements in coal and cement, and (3) optimizing the design of a PGNAA coincidence system for the bulk analysis of coal.« less
  • The main discussions and conclusions from the Third Co-ordination Meeting on the Development of a Database for Prompt Gamma-ray Neutron Activation Analysis are summarized in this report. All results were reviewed in detail, and the final version of the TECDOC and the corresponding software were agreed upon and approved for preparation. Actions were formulated with the aim of completing the final version of the TECDOC and associated software by May 2003.
  • Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation (PGNAA) systems require the use of a gamma-ray spectrometer to record the gamma-ray spectrum of an object under test and allow the determination of the object’s composition. Field-portable systems, such as Idaho National Laboratory’s PINS system, have used standard liquid-nitrogen-cooled high-purity germanium (HPGe) detectors to perform this function. These detectors have performed very well in the past, but the requirement of liquid-nitrogen cooling limits their use to areas where liquid nitrogen is readily available or produced on-site. Also, having a relatively large volume of liquid nitrogen close to the detector can impact some assessments, possibly leadingmore » to a false detection of explosives or other nitrogen-containing chemical. Use of a mechanically-cooled HPGe detector is therefore very attractive for PGNAA applications where nitrogen detection is critical or where liquid-nitrogen logistics are problematic. Mechanically-cooled HPGe detectors constructed from p-type germanium, such as Ortec’s trans-SPEC, have been commercially available for several years. In order to assess whether these detectors would be suitable for use in a fielded PGNAA system, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been performing a number of tests of the resistance of mechanically-cooled HPGe detectors to neutron damage. These detectors have been standard commercially-available p-type HPGe detectors as well as prototype n-type HPGe detectors. These tests compare the performance of these different detector types as a function of crystal temperature and incident neutron fluence on the crystal.« less