Security applications development at ELI-NP: detecting concealed threatening materials by using Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence and 2D/3D tomography with gamma beams - ELI_THREAT_DETECT

Category: 
National funded projects
Period: 
October, 2017 to December, 2019
Coordinator: 
ACCENT PRO 2000 S.R.L.

Since the attacks of September 11th 2001 and many others that followed, high emphasis and increasing efforts have been put towards protecting people from terrorist attacks. However, unlike several years ago, this protection is no longer directed against conventional weapons only; nowadays a radiological “dirty bomb” attack or even a nuclear attack poses serious threats, according to experts, and these threats only continue to grow. The materials used in nuclear weapons are Uranium (U-235) and Plutonium (Pu-239) both named as “special nuclear material” (SNM). When Uranium is enriched then we are speaking about highly enriched uranium, or HEU. Same for weapons-grade plutonium, or WGPu. Since those nuclear materials could be transported only in highly shielded enclosures, the security authorities are focussing in detecting SNM smuggled in cargo containers. This project proposes to improve the detection techniques of the SNMs and other threatening materials hidden in cargo containers (such as: gamma sources, explosives, contraband substances, flammable liquids, narcotics, etc.) by using the Nuclear Resonance Techniques (NRF), hence exploiting the unique advantages offered by highly-specialized ELI-NP Gamma Beam equipment in accurately measuring the nuclear resonances.
State of the art in LCS and NRF. The recent developments in the production of high-energy gamma beams by Laser Compton Scattering (LCS) technique have ignited interest in exploring the potentials of the LCS gamma beam in active interrogations for security applications. Gamma beams obtained through inverse Compton scattering of laser light on relativistic electrons have attractive features from the perspective of the potential applications, such as high spectral density, small bandwidth and tunable energy. Low dose, high penetrability and high specificity are few of the advantages of using LCS gamma beams for security applications. The Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF)-based applications planned to be developed at ELI-NP target the use of NRF and Computed Tomography (CT) with high-energy gamma beams for providing unique opportunities for industry and society [6]. The potential of NRF for security applications has been demonstrated by using bremsstrahlung radiation and the currently available LCS gamma beams for several applications like detection of shielded special nuclear materials [1], assay of spent nuclear fuel [2] and material identification based on the ratio between elements [3], with some limitations encountered due to the available technologies. The applicability of the NRF-based method can be extended also to other fields like cultural heritage and material science. The solution chosen at ELI-NP for producing LCS gamma beams by using a warm LINAC and a high repetition rate laser will produce gamma beams of continuously tunable energy from 0.2 MeV to 19.5 MeV, high spectral density (higher than 104 ph/eV/s) and very small bandwidth (less than 0.5 %), features well beyond the present capabilities of the presently available LCS gamma beams providing the potential for development of active interrogations and industrial radiography and tomography techniques.

The ELI-NP facility will provide laser and gamma beams with unprecedented characteristics for nuclear physics research and applications [8-10]. The ELI-NP gamma beam system (GBS) will deliver quasi-monochromatic gamma-ray beams (bandwidth 95%) in the range of 0.2–19.5 MeV produced by the laser Compton scattering technique (LCS) [7]. These gamma beams are promising tools for probing with high resolution the structural and elemental composition of industrial objects [6].
The ELI_THREAT_DETECT project’s general goal is related to the ELI-RO TDRs topic RA4/II.3 „Application of NRF techniques to material science or cultural heritage research” and RA4/II.4 “Industrial tomography and radiography” with reference to the ELI-NP White Book [8] section 5.6.1 “Industrial Applications for the management of nuclear materials” and to the TDR “Gamma-beam industrial applications at ELI-NP” [6].
The partners proposing the ELI_THREAT_DETECT project, IFIN-HH as coordinator of the entire ELI-NP project, and AP2K with expertise in the development of digital radiography (DR) and industrial computed tomography (ICT) systems for non-destructive testing (NDT) and Security (baggage screening) applications, have also collaborated for the ELI-NP White book [8] and for the elaboration of the technical design report (TDR) “Gamma beam industrial applications at ELI-NP” [6]. The TDR focuses on the technical description of two major industrial applications of gamma beams at ELI-NP: industrial applications based on Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF) and industrial radioscopy and tomography with high-energy gamma beams. The NRF-based investigations, also referred to as active interrogations, can be successfully applied to safeguard applications and management of nuclear materials as well as to cultural heritage and medical imaging. The experimental setups proposed in the TDR include an advanced gamma-ray detection system based on segmented clover HPGe detectors – ELIADE [11] – that will be shared between nuclear physics experiments [11] and NRF-based applications [6]. ELIADE is currently under implementation and will become available in 2019. Other components of the setups are two automated mechanical scanners, large volume scintillator detectors (eg. BGO, NaI or LaBr3), a 2D gamma imaging system and various collimators. This equipment can be used in the ELI_THREAT_DETECT project as soon as it becomes available.
The ELI_THREAT_DETECT project’s primary objectives aim to the extension and diversification of the TDR “Gamma beam industrial applications at ELI-NP” proposal. Within this project we propose to use the techniques described in the TDR to develop a strategy for the detection of concealed threatening material and to propose additional experimental setups that will enlarge the range of possible applications at ELI-NP.
The ELI_THREAT_DETECT proposal combines the expertise of AP2K in Security (single, dual and multi energy, diffraction X-ray Digital Radiography and Tomography for baggage scanners) and non-destructive testing of materials (gamma and X-ray imaging) with the equipment and the know-how available at ELI-NP to deliver new opportunities for security applications development. Moreover, the X-ray laboratory equipment and facilities of AP2K will be employed in all necessary tests for the preparation and testing phases of this project.
The ELI_THREAT_DETECT proposal will create the necessary equipment, analysis algorithms and skilled scientists and engineers for further continuing the security applications development at ELI-NP.
The ELI_THREAT_DETECT project aim is to combine 2D&3D imaging techniques based on gamma-ray transmission and nuclear resonance fluorescence (NRF) for developing screening/scanning algorithms for large-size objects, like cargo containers, trucks, vans, parcels, etc., in order to accurately detect the most forbidden threatening materials hidden inside, such as: special nuclear materials, shielded gamma sources, various type of explosives or precursors of explosives, contraband materials, flammable liquids, toxic substances, etc. The project main objectives are:
• To analyze various threatening materials for developing a database containing main parameters of interest, such as: chemical formula, density, Zeffective, minimal quantity to be detected, gamma attenuation coefficients, and especially the optimum NRF energies and cross sections for threats detections.
• To develop threats-detection-specific NRF set-up design using Monte-Carlo simulations with GEANT4 toolkit, for two main arrangements: a) in scattering, using a backward geometry of the detectors using the so called “Scattering NRF method”; b) in transmission using “witness” foils of known composition placed after the container using the “self-absorption” or transmission NRF method;
• To study the impact and the advantages of using the LINAC bremsstrahlung sources or available LCS sources (ex. Subaru-Japan, HIGS-USA) for calibrating the setups and/or for measuring the energy spectrum of particular materials of interest before the ELI-NP gamma source becomes available;
• To generate 2D&3D NRF-based data from Monte Carlo simulations for preliminary analysis and evaluation of various threats detectability level in several cases, such as: using different types of gamma sources (LCS or LINAC bremsstrahlung), different geometry set-ups, usage of various type of spectroscopic detectors, different scanning techniques for container content 2D&3D imaging.
• To develop a reasonable size 3D container phantom containing various combinations of threatening materials or their simulants in different overlapped positions. The phantom will contain materials of different Z and density, high Z shielding materials as well as materials that could yield an overlapped emitted NRF lines situation. This phantom will be used for NRF and tomography tests as well as for optimization experiments at ELI-NP Gamma Beam. For tomography tests we will use the ELI-NP mechanical scanners and the scanning control procedures developed in the ELITOMO project.
• To develop a complex algorithm for scanning, reconstruction and 2D&3D image visualization of various detected threats inside the container, including an NRF-based 3D threats reconstruction algorithm.
• To finally present a conceptual design of an industrial application solution for cargo container/truck gamma scanning equipment, dedicated for borders and harbors customs security checkpoints that would use the NRF imaging techniques developed within the proposal.
• To form and train scientists and engineers for future operation of experimental setups dedicated for security applications at ELI-NP.

The ELI-NP GBS will deliver gamma beams of unique characteristics that will present countless opportunities at forefront of science for both fundamental as well as applied research [9].
Within the ELI_THREAT_DETECT project our objectives are to combine conventional gamma imaging by radiography and tomography with an element specific technique, like nuclear resonance fluorescence, for developing a container-screening strategy:
• The container is pre-scanned by gamma-ray single/dual energies technique for obtaining the 2D&3D Zeff /density transmission images in order to localize the high Z/high density materials that may pose potential threats, defined as regions of interest (ROI).
• The ROIs defined in the previous step will be locally investigated using NRF for an exact determination of their elemental composition, hence detecting the concealed threatening materials;
At ELI-NP will be two experimental configurations dedicated to digital radiography (DR) and industrial computed tomography (ICT): i) a pencil-beam setup that uses a collimated beam and a large volume gamma detector and ii) a cone-beam setup that uses a full beam divergence and a two-dimensional detector. In both cases the aim is to obtain high-resolution tomography images (0.2 mm –1 mm). These configurations can be used for obtaining transmission images or 2D/3D reconstructed images of large objects in order to localize ROIs that can be further imaged using a combination of DR/ICT and NRF. The NRF-based investigations will be performed using two methods: backscattering NRF and transmission or self-absorption NRF [3]. In the first method, the detectors are placed in a backscattering geometry and record the NRF photons produced in beam line passing through the investigated container. In the second method, the beam transmitted through the object will impinge on targets of known composition (witness foils), which contains the material that should be detected.
In the transmission NRF method, the detectors are placed around the witness foils in backscattering geometry and register the number of NRF photons that are produced in the witness foil rather than in the investigated object/cargo. Preferential attenuation of the resonant photons in the investigated object will lead to a reduction of the NRF signal produced by the witness foil. The difference in the number of counts registered by the detectors with or without the object/cargo will determine the amount of material of interest (suspected material) in the investigated object. The applicability of each experimental method depends on the size of the investigated object/cargo and on the demanded sensitivity [4]. For thin objects both method can be employed whereas for large objects through which the gamma beam cannot be transmitted the scattering method is more advantageous.

Within the ELI_THREAT_DETECT project our objectives are to use the techniques proposed and described in the TDR and mentioned above to develop a strategy for the detection of concealed threatening material and propose additional experimental setups that will enlarge the range of applications that can be performed at ELI-NP. Figure 1 shows a sketch of two possible experimental configurations that are proposed for large cargo screening and will be optimized and tested during this project. We plan to use Monte Carlo simulations not only for preliminary optimization of the setup but also for estimating the smallest quantities of threats detectable for each configuration and find solutions for challenging situations, like scanning complex objects containing materials yielding similar NRF signatures. Figure 2 displays a simulated energy spectrum that is obtained by us when a gamma beam of 2.176 MeV impinges on a target of 238U. The arrows point to the NRF resonances that are the fingerprint of 238U. By mapping these resonance in a ROI of a cargo one can obtain a 2D/3D distribution of 238U inside cargo [12]. We plan to use the expertise of AP2K in NDT and security x-ray radiography and computed tomography to develop a complex algorithm for scanning, reconstruction and 2D&3D image visualization of various detected threats inside a container, including an NRF-based 3D threats reconstruction algorithm. We want to combine the know-how available at AP2K and at ELI-NP with the equipment available at ELI-NP to prepare the fundamental base for the security applications setups at ELI-NP.

References
[1] C. A. Hagmann et al. J. Appl. Phys. 106, 084901 (2009).
[2] C. T. Angell et al. Nucl. Inst. Meth. Phys. Res. B 347 (2015) 11–19
[3] W. Bertozzi et al. Nucl. Inst. Meth. Phys. Res. B 261, 331 (2007)
[4] B. A. Ludewigt, B. J. Quiter and S.D. Ambers, Nuclear resonance fluorescence for safeguards applications, DOE report, url: http://dx.doi.org/10.2172/1022713 (2011).
[5] H. Ohgaki et al., J. Korean Phys. Soc. 59, 3155 (2011).
[6] G. Suliman et al., Gamma Beam Industrial applications at ELI-NP, Rom. Rep. Phys. 68 (2016) S799–S845.
[7] O. Adriani et al., Technical Design Report EuroGammaS proposal for the ELI-NP Gamma beam System, arXiv:1407.3669.
[8] ELI-NP White Book - http://www.eli-np.ro/documents/ELI-NP-WhiteBook.pdf , pg. 125
[9] S. Gales et al., New frontiers in nuclear physics with high-power lasers and brilliant monochromatic gamma beams, Physica Scripta 91 093004 (2016).
[10] C. A. Ur et al., Acta Physica Polonica B 46, 743 (2015).
[11] C. A. Ur et al, Nuclear resonance fluorescence experiments at ELI-NP, Rom. Rep. Phys. 68, S483 (2016).
[12] I. Daito, H. Ohgaki, G. Suliman, V Iancu, C. A. Ur, M Iovea, Simulation Study on Computer Tomography Imaging of Nuclear Distribution by Quasi Monoenergetic Gamma Rays with Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence: case study for ELI-NP application, Energy Procedia 89 389 – 394 (2016).

1st Place on the Top Romanian Businesses 2013

The encyclopedic site dedicated to Romanian enterprises www.listafirme.ro has listed ACCENT PRO 2000 S.R.L to be the 1st most successful R&D Romanian Company and the 2nd in the Top R&D Company from District 3, Bucharest, according to the 2012 balance sheet.

HORIZON 2020 - The Romanian Innovation Forum

Under the Research and Innovation for the SME’s benefit motto, The National Education Ministry gathered a series of enterprises and research unities involved in Technological Platforms to identify innovation, inventions, innovative companies and new technologies for the purpose of transferring innovation in the economic environment.

The 6th edition of international Symposium took place in Bucharest from 16th to 18th October 2013 and had as the main goal to bring forward innovative methods and technologies, development of new products and services, knowledge and technology transfer from the research environment to the productive one.

ACCENT PRO 2000 ltd. was present to the forum to talk about Difficulties and solutions in elaboration and management of R4SME projects from the perspective of the AP2K General Manager Dr. Mihai IOVEA, who has been Project coordinator for 13 projects and partner in more than 11 projects financed by Romanian Ministry of Research, EC or private companies.
 

Follow presentation link:
 

Confference presentations:
http://www.arott.ro/forum/prezentari

 

"Investments for Your Future!" - Măgurele High Tech Cluster

35 founding members associated today, the 18th of November 2013 to form a Non-Governmental, Nonprofit, Apolitical and Non-discriminatory Organization under the name of Măgurele High Tech Cluster – MHTC.

The purpose of the new-created Association is to ensure the technological transfer between Research-Development-Innovation entities and the Business environment by the development of productive partnerships. In this manner it is expected an increase in the competitiveness of Romanian companies, a growth in R&D&I capacities and a higher rate of success in the matter of Results.

Since the productivity seems to be the new target in the R&D domain, these partnerships that are able to generate innovative technologies, products and services destined to eliminate certain problems and to create implementing mechanisms are basically feeding an actual need.

With the approval of the Associates, the MHTC Association will accept new members.  (For further details please see the MHTC presentation held by Ioan Ursu at the Industrial Forum, the President of Măgurele High Tech Cluster.)

FP7 Project PlastronicsSpec Final Meeting in Bucharest, ROMANIA

On the 3rd and 4th of December 2013, the PlastronicsSpec Partners gathered at Accent Pro 2000 ltd. premises in Romania for the project’s Final meeting and DEMO day.

The first day of Meeting Agenda covered the Project overview and presentations of Radiography Activities, Development of signal processing for real time X-ray detector arrays, System Enclosure, System Integration and Validation.  There were also discussions on the future Dissemination, Exploitation and Training activities.

The second meeting day was an open Demonstration Day of the PlastronicsSpec System located at the Coordinator’s Laboratory at Faculty of Physics, where the Consortium and other guests were invited to see a real-time product scan preceded by an introduction of the Project.

The completion of the project milestones are on track and according to schedule, stated Dr. Ian Nicholson, TWI Project Manager.

The project is funded by the European FP7 programme, started on the 1st of November 2011 and will end on December 31st, 2013.

The PlastronicsSpec consortium on the Demo day, 4th December 2013.

Interest in Performance: The Industrial Forum

ACCENT PRO 2000 ltd. was invited on Tuesday, December 10th, at the Industrial Forum, a special meeting dedicated to Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) Project. and organized by The National Education Ministry (MEN) and the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH).

As the ELI-NP Project Manager N. Zamfir stated, “The New Laser – almost 1000 times more powerful than any other existing laser, will create a Center of European Research in Măgurele, ROMANIA, this being not only the avant-garde of research in the lasers’ domain at a global level but also an opportunity to explore new frontiers in various industrial domains.

Since there is an increasing interest for the companies’ help and expertise in such projects, AP2K is looking forward to develop new partnerships that will positively exploit the ELI-NP Gamma beam Source in imaging applications – our main activity domain.

Follow the presentation link

The Romanian Academy of Science Award

Accent Pro 2000 personnel has been awarded by The Romanian Academy of Science for the scientific paper "Dual-energy X-Ray Tomography applied to marine and deltaic geology" published in Engineering Geology. The event took place on December 19th 2013, in Bucharest, ROMANIA.

PlastronicsSpec system

PlastronicsSpec system on +Plastic ELECTRONICS magazine

In an article published on the DIGITAL edition of +Plastic ELECTRONICS magazine, the consortium for PlastronicsSpec discusses the potential impact of inspection technology in reducing OLED production costs - and opening the markets in displays and lighting.

Plastic electronics companies across the globe are set to invest heavily this year in evolving their manufacturing processes to both increase the size of production runs and cut material defects.

A defect-reducing inspection system for OLED production could help drive down price for new consumer products and lighting. The system was developed by a consortium of European businesses and academic institutes, as part of the EU-funded PlastronicsSpec project.

Click to Read the Full Article

Memorandum of Scientific Collaboration on the implementation of the ELI-NP between IFIN-HH AND AP2K

The Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) project, under implementation in Bucharest-Magurele, Romania, aims at reaching extremely high photon field intensities, for new experiments in Nuclear Physics and related areas, with two large research equipment, a high power laser system and a high intensity gamma beam system. Both pieces of equipment are significantly beyond present-day state-of-the -art.The new research infrastructure promises to break new ground in many areas of science and technology, such asa fundamental physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, accelerators and releted technical developments, laser physics and engineering, medicine, and material science.
The purpose of this Memorandum is to establish a proper framework for cooperation between the signatory parties regarding the implementation of ELI-NP and the development of its scientific programme.
HoriaHulubei " National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, hereinafter "IFIN-HH", and Aceent Pro 2000 s.r.l., hereinafter "AP2K", are the sole parties to this Memorandum.
The undersigned parties agree to cooperate on research topics for developing applications for the High intensity gamma beam system from ELI-NP project, for:
- developing the ELI-NP gamma beam experimental areas;
- defining the applications set-up's intensity gamma beam system;
- designing and developing the necessary instrumentation for applications implementations;
- training high-skilled human resources in teh field;
- promoting ELI-NP as in international user facility.

 

TWI and NDT news about AP2K work in collaboration

TWI Technology Centre (Wales)

The Open Access NDT Database
The Web's Largest Database of Nondestructive Testing (NDT)

Third place in Top Profit Romania 2014

Third place in Top Profit Romania Microcompanies - SECTORUL 3 city, activity 72: Scientific research and development, according to the balance 2013
More details: http://www.romanian-companies.eu/

Participation in research Romanian TIB Shop 2014

Accent Pro 2000 was participated at TIB- Bucharest International Technical Fair, an emblematic trade fair for ROMEXPO, between 15 and 18 of October.

At this fair Accent Pro 2000 had a booth where presented a number of several exhibits:

          - a working prototype  detector DUALTOMO- a dual-energy X-ray Radioscopy system dedicated for the use within antitero interventions for the fast identification of the content of the suspect luggage and packages and also for NDT industrial applications;

          - poster of the  project PlastronicsSpec:  Development of an automated digital radiography system for the inspection of plastic electronics;

          - poster of the  project  AutoInspect: Automated inspection for sintered parts by non-destructive technique for improved quality in production;

          - poster of the  project  DUALTOMO : The design and development of high-resolution dual-energy X-ray Digital Radioscopy mobile and autonomous system destined for fast identification of the explosive materials during the antitero interventions and also for NDT industrial applications;

        - presentation of  X-ray images on a display of PC from the projects PlastronicsSpec, AutoInspect, DUALTOMO  and others;

           - poster of the  presentation of projects research and development made by our company;

Among the exhibitors there were institutes from Magurele: IFIN-HH, INOE, INFLPR, INFP, from Bucharest: ROSA, ICECHIM, IMT and from the country, but also joined and  successful SMEs.

AUTOINSPECT project story on Horizon 2020 website

Story on AUTOINSPECT project has been published on our Horizon 2020 website.

Horizon 2020 is a research and innovation programme from the European Union.

The article can be accessed from the following link

 

Third place in Top Profit Romania 2015

Third place in Top Profit Romania Microcompanies - SECTORUL 3 city, activity 72: Scientific research and development.
More details: http://www.listafirme.ro/top_2015/diploma_360836.htm

Participation in research Romanian TIB Shop 2015

Accent Pro 2000 has participated at TIB- Bucharest International Technical Fair, an emblematic trade fair for ROMEXPO, between 14 and 17 of October.
A number of several exhibits where presented at the event:
- poster of the projects Autoinspect, Plastronicsspec, Dualtomo and the presentation of projects research and development made by our company;

- presentation of X-ray images on a display of PC from the projects PlastronicsSpec, AutoInspect, DUALTOMO and others;

- a working prototype detector DUALTOMO- a dual-energy X-ray Radioscopy system dedicated for the use within antitero interventions for the fast identification of the content of the suspect luggage and packages and also for NDT industrial applications.

Project "NextGen Scanner for Checked In Luggage" - CIL2018

Project ''Support action for gamma beam industrial imaging applications development at ELI-NP / ELITOMO''

Third place in Top Profit Romania 2016

Third place in Top Profit Romania Microcompanies - SECTORUL 3 city, activity 72: Scientific research and development.

Project "MUltiscale, Multimodal and Multidimensional imaging for EngineeRING" - acronym - MUMMERING

Security applications development at ELI-NP: detecting concealed threatening materials by using Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence and 2D/3D tomography with gamma beams - ELI_THREAT_DETECT

ACCENT PRO 2000 S.R.L. (AP2K), seeks candidates for a 3-years PhD position in the interdisciplinary field of X-ray physics, materials science and computation

The PhD student will be part of our Research and Development team in the field of "2D &3D X-ray multimodal X-ray imaging for investigation of threats detection for security applications", especially in advanced baggage scanner techniques. The main goal is to analyze and optimize, by simulations and experiments, the materials identification methods based on various X-ray imaging techniques, such as: dual-energy, multi-energy and diffractions, using different scanning techniques that includes one-view, dual-view, multi-view and 2D and 3D static (non-gantry) tomography.

The PhD student will work closely with research colleagues from AP2K but also with the academic partner at Department of Physics at the Technical University of Denmark – DTU (www.dtu.dk) and externally, with our industrial and academic partners.

Your PhD project will be part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, “Multiscale, Multimodal, Multidimensional imaging for EngineeRING” or in short MUMMERING (www.mummering.eu). The network is concerned with interdisciplinary R&D and training in 3D imaging and its application in materials and information science. The network offers totally 15 PhD positions Information about all 15 PhD positions can be found here.

For more details and other requirements of the PhD position please visit : https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/258300