Monte Carlo design and simulation of a shipboard ²⁵²Cf-based PGNAA analyzer for the sensitivity analysis of seafloor cores Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2227mt62f

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  • The seabed is envisaged to meet the increased future demands for minerals from the rapidly growing industrialized societies of the world. Shipboard analysis of cores can significantly reduce the cost and time spent at the exploratory drilling stage by obviating the need to go back to land for analysis. It can further speed the exploration process by enabling a quick modification of the exploration plan based on the results of the shipboard analysis. A ²⁵²Cf-based analyzer utilizing the prompt gamma neutron activation analysis technique has been designed. The analyzer is a spherical iron shell with the source at its center. The seabed core is passed through a hollow composite tube which is positioned a short distance directly below the source and the resulting prompt gamma rays are collimated to a HPGe detector. The rest of the sphere is filled with paraffin. The gamma ray flux at the detector is converted into a count rate by using a semi-empirical detector response function. This count rate data are then used to determine the sensitivity and detection limits for the chosen elements (Mg, Al, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni and Cu). Monte Carlo simulations using the Monte Carlo neutron photon coupled transport code, MCNP, were carried out for a parametric study of important variables influencing the design of the analyzer. These parameters included the moderator type, source to sample distance and sample porosity. MCNP was then used to model the analyzer and to generate the neutron flux profiles in the sample and the prompt gamma flux at the detector. Due to the non-availability of the prompt gamma data for most of the elements of economic interest in the ENDF/B-V cross section libraries associated with MCNP, the point kernel photon transport code ISOSHLD-II (modified for high energy gamma rays) was used to generate the gamma flux at the detector for specific elements. The ISOSHLD-II source term was calculated based on known gamma production data (thermal capture only) and the thermal neutron flux in the sample obtained from MCNP computations. The sensitivity and detection limits obtained from the isotopic source based analyzer were compared for the case of aluminum with values reported from reactor facilities. The results obtained indicate that the analyzer designed in this work could prove suitable for the on-line analysis of many elements of economic interest in seabed cores at the 1 weight percent level.
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