Vector Representation as a Tool for Detecting Characteristic Uranium Peaks
Forney, Anne Marie
Vector representation is found as a viable tool for identifying the presence of and determining the difference between enriched and naturally occurring uranium. This was accomplished through the isolation of two regions of interest around the uranium-235 (235U) gamma emission at 186 keV and the uranium-238 (238U) gamma emission at 1001 keV. The uranium 186 keV peak is used as a meter for uranium enrichment, and events from this emission occurred more frequently with the increase of the 235U composition. Spectra were taken with the use of a high purity germanium detector in series with a multi-channel analyzer (MCA) and Maestro 32, a MCA emulator and spectral software. The vector representation method was used to compare two spectra by taking their dot product. The output from this method is an angle, which represents the similarity and contrast between the two spectra. When the angle is close to zero the spectra are similar, and as the angle approaches 90 degrees the spectral agreement decreases. The angles were calculated and compared in Microsoft Excel.A 49 % enriched uranyl acetate source containing both gamma emissions from 235U and 238U was used as a reference source to which all spectra were compared. Two other uranium sources were used within this project: a 100.2 nCi highly-enriched uranium source with 97.7 % 235U by weight, and a piece of uranium ore with an approximate exposure rate of 0.2 mR/h (51.5 nC/kg/h) at 1 cm. These two uranium sources provided different ratios of 235U to 238U, leading to different ratios of the 186 keV and 1001 keV peaks.To test the limits of the vector representation method, various source configurations were used. These included placing the source directly on top of the detector, using two distances for the source from the detector, using the source in addition to cobalt-60, and finally two distances for the source from the detector with a one centimeter lead shield. The two distances from the detector without the shielding were 1.3 inches (3.30 cm) and 1 foot (30.48 cm). In the cases using lead shielding, in the first geometry, the source was placed directly on the lead shielding and in the second geometry, the source was placed a foot above the lead shielding and detector.Vector representation output angles higher than a value of 40.3 degrees indicated that uranium was not present in the source. All of the sources tested with an angle below this 40.3 degree cutoff contained some type of uranium. To determine whether the uranium was processed or naturally occurring, 18.0 degrees was chosen as the upper limit for processed uranium sources. Sources that produced an angle above 18.0 degrees and below 40.3 degrees were categorized as naturally occurring uranium. The vector representation technique was able to classify the uranium sources in all of the geometries except for the geometries that included the centimeter of lead.
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