Electronics Upgrades to the Green Is Clean Phoswich Detector Systems and Programmatic Implementation at LANL – Phase II Completion – 18403

by | Jul 1, 2018 | Papers

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) radiological facilities produce low-density room trash that, in many cases, is not contaminated with radioactivity. It has been estimated that 50 to 90% of low-density room trash is free of radioactive contamination and eligible for inclusion in LANL’s Green is Clean (GIC) program. The GIC program is a verification program for non-regulated waste from radiation controlled areas that has been actively segregated as nonradioactive through the use of the waste generator’s acceptable knowledge. The GIC program has employed two large area Phoswich gamma ray detector systems (HERCULES and ZEUS) to verify that GIC candidate low-density waste contains no radioactivity above background. The large area (127 cm{sup 2}) Phoswich detectors consist of a thin NaI front crystal (3 mm thick) that is optically coupled to a thick CsI back crystal (50 mm thick). The scintillation properties of the two crystals are different enough to allow the system’s electronic components to identify the origin of any pulse. The original systems utilize Nuclear Instrumentation Module (NIM) electronics to process the detector signals. The electronics currently in use by the systems are out of date and some components are no longer manufactured. In 2015, phase I upgrades to the GIC detector systems were completed. Phase I objectives included identifying more modern commercially available electronics that could replace the NIM electronics. A pulse shape discriminator (PSD) module, the Digital Gamma Finder (DGF) Pixie-4 made by XIA LLC, that fits in a compact National Instruments{sup TM} PXI chassis was identified to replace the majority of the original NIM bin electronics – a single Pixie-4 module replaces four NIM amplifiers and four NIM pulse shape analyzers (PSAs). Another phase I objective was to show that that new PSD could separate out the NaI and CsI detector signals in a manner equivalent to or better than the NIM electronics. Proof of concept was achieved in 2015 when a prototype upgrade system on ZEUS was built and tested and gating parameter settings were determined that successfully separated the NaI and CsI signals. Phase II required establishing a LabVIEW software interface with Pixie-4 electronics in lieu of the manufacturer provided Pixie-4 software called the Pixie Viewer. In addition, phase II included 1) final optimization of the gating parameters on the prototype Pixie-4 ZEUS system, 2) finalizing Requirements, Design and Test Plan documents, 3) LabVIEW software interface quality assurance (QA) testing, 4) setting up the HERCULES system with the Pixie-4 upgrade electronics, 5) check source and background calibration of both systems, 6) absolute efficiency determination on both systems and 7) procedure revisions and implementation of both systems into routine operations. In 2017 phase II was completed including the preparation of detailed Requirements, Design and Test Plan documents. The LabVIEW interface software that communicates and controls the Pixie-4 has been completed, merged with the preexisting LabVIEW operations software and fully tested. Gating parameter optimization, configuration of HERCULES with the Pixie-4 electronics, check source and background calibrations and absolute efficiency determinations have all been performed – quantitative results are presented in the full paper. For performance validation, comparison measurements of actual GIC bags on both the HERCULES system using the old NIM Bin electronics and the ZEUS system using the upgraded Pixie-4 electronics have been done and evaluated. Finally, procedure revisions and implementation of both systems into routine operations is currently in process and planned to be complete by the end of calendar year 2017.

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