First buyer for radioactive radar system

BNFL Instruments has secured the first order for a new-look plutonium detector for decommissioning, which incorporates an innovative 3D mapping system. The company’s Dispim (decommissioning in-situ plutonium inventory monitor) has been ordered by Siemens for its mixed oxide fuel plant in Hanau, Germany. Dispim’s new imaging facility can assess the volume and also the distribution […]

BNFL Instruments has secured the first order for a new-look plutonium detector for decommissioning, which incorporates an innovative 3D mapping system.

The company’s Dispim (decommissioning in-situ plutonium inventory monitor) has been ordered by Siemens for its mixed oxide fuel plant in Hanau, Germany.

Dispim’s new imaging facility can assess the volume and also the distribution of plutonium within a particular piece of equipment being decommissioned.

It achieves this using a modular array of neutron detectors mounted on a mobile supporter. By applying algorithms to readings from the differently positioned detectors, Dispim compares and calibrates the data to produce a 3D graphical representation of where plutonium is sited – in essence, a form of radioactive radar.

A gamma spectrometer is attached to the Dispim, which further assists in determining the quantities of fissile material present.

The array has been designed to prevent interference in situations where, for example, a glovebox being examined and an adjacent item may each contain plutonium.

‘This allows highly precise decommissioning to take place and minimises the risks facing those carrying out the work,’ says Chris Warran, European sales manager for BNFL Instruments.

After the Siemens deal, the company is looking for Dispim to achieve a world-wide reach.

‘We think that this product has global potential – in Europe, both West and East, in Japan and in North America,’ says Warran.

‘It is a highly specialised product for a large but highly specialised market. Once you take into account the 3D facility, there is not a great deal out there that is comparable.’