GE Energy, manufacturer of Reuter Stokes radiation detection equipment, has signed a technology transfer agreement to market the electronics and software associated with the SNS 8Pack neutron detector system, an award-winning design for a system of sensitive neutron detectors developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The SNS 8Pack is a compact neutron detection system that was developed for the Department of Energy's Spallation Neutron Source, a record-setting neutron science facility located at ORNL. The SNS electronics can determine both the time and position of the neutron captured, enabling very accurate neutron time-of-flight measurements. It has large-area detector coverage, extremely low power requirements and digital communication capability.
"It is exciting that, even as the SNS ramps up to its full power of 1.4 megawatts, technologies from its development are already finding their way to the marketplace," said ORNL Director Thom Mason.
"Combining GE's expertise in designing detectors for neutron scattering instruments with the high-speed electronics and software developed by SNS is a natural fit," said Leo VanderSchuur, Product Line General Manager for GE Energy's Reuter Stokes Measurement Solutions. "This state-of-the-art design will benefit the neutron scattering community with high-speed performance and advanced time-of-flight capabilities."
SNS engineers developed the electronics and software for the integrated detector system to accommodate the very large detector areas and high rates required by the SNS. Interest in the product for commercial applications has ranged from other neutron science facilities to security applications, such as monitoring land, air and sea shipping.
"The system is modular so that very large detector arrays can be built. You can have greater than 50 square meters of detector coverage," said Ron Cooper, a member of the SNS development team. "It has high rate capability, good position resolution, and features modern, distributed personal-computer-based electronics."
Another attractive feature is its very lower power requirement. "The SNS 8Pack requires very little power to operate; less than 10 watts. In fact, it can be powered by a small solar panel," said Cooper, of ORNL's Neutron Facilities Development Division.
The 8Pack technology development was funded by the DOE Office of Science's Basic Energy Science program. Developed by Cooper, Richard Riedel of ORNL's Neutron Scattering Science Division and Lloyd Clonts of ORNL's Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division, the solar power version called Pharos won an R&D 100 award in 2007 as one of the year's top technologies as determined by R&D Magazine.