Quantitative and three-dimensional assessment of holdup material

N. Rebei, M. Fang, A. Di Fulvio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nuclear material deposited in equipment, transfer lines, and ventilation systems of a processing facility is usually referred to as holdup. Operators need to know the location and amount of holdup in their facility for radiation safety and material accountability. In this work, we propose to use an array of detectors co-axial to the inspected pipe to measure the holdup material. This method is implementable into an automated system capable of crawling on surfaces and pipes of various curvatures, which would enable faster, easier, and more accurate holdup safeguards measurements. We first demonstrated that the current holdup assay procedure could lead to a non-negligible bias in the estimate of special nuclear material mass, due to the simplified assumption of deposited geometry introduced by the Generalized Geometry Holdup (GGH) model. The new approach consists of imaging the inner holdup material by characterizing the detector array's response and unfolding it from the measured light output. Our experimental proof of principle consists of three NaI(Tl) detectors surrounding an aluminum pipe containing two cesium-137 (137Cs) sources. We derived the source distribution inside the pipe by first calculating the detector response matrix using a method adaptive to the surface geometry of the object containing the measured holdup material. Creating a matrix of the detector array's measured counts, we then proceed to solve an inverse problem, resulting in an accurately located source position and activity distribution within the response matrix's spatial resolution. We then developed a simulated model of the envisioned experimental setup, which accurately described both the activity and position of the source in 2D. Finally, we extended our model onto a discretized three-dimensional model of the system, encompassing 36 detectors. The model was simulated to measure the source distribution and activity of multiple sources in pipes of varied geometries, which could then be conveniently translated to a real-time holdup measurement protocol. For the 3D simulation of four different source geometries, the model accurately localized the source position in 3D, while the activity retained a maximum relative error of ±5.32%.


  • Holdup
  • Nuclear safeguards
  • Robotic monitoring
  • Scintillators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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