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Research and Development of Ion Source, Replenisher and High Voltage Modules for a Neutron Generator

Background:

Nuclear technology plays a crucial role in the well logging industry due to the unique capabilities of nuclear radiation. For instance, fast neutrons have good penetration capability, allowing them to pass through the borehole casing and interact with the formation beyond. By analyzing the neutrons and gamma rays returning from the formation, useful geophysical information can be determined.

Well-logging oriented neutron generators are a much safer source of neutrons, compared to chemical neutron sources that have been used previously. Chemical neutron sources are constantly emitting neutron radiation, which can be hazardous to the environment and to equipment operators. Because of this, the trend has been to replace chemical neutron sources with accelerator-based neutron generators, as these neutron generators only emit neutrons during operation. There is a large demand in the well-logging equipment market for neutron generators that are compact, rated for high temperatures and have a long usable lifetime.

Our existing technology:

Our proprietary digital Neutron Generator Controller (NGC) has been running stable for a significant amount of time. The digital design is flexible and offers benefits for many applications:

Adjustable neutron generator operating parameters
Live display of neutron generator operating characteristics
Variable neutron-bursting frequency and pulse patterns
Neutron generator lifetime and temperature data recording
Sophisticated, robust design for long life in high temperature (150) applications

The goal of the project:

To design and manufacture sophisticated electronic components, internal frame and pressure housing hardware, which will be coupled with the existing NGC to produce a neutron generator for the oil & gas equipment market.

Major R&D contents:

Neutron generator high voltage power module: This module includes the transformer, voltage multiplier and feedback circuit, which are used to generate voltages up to 100kV that are required to operate the neutron generator.
Ion source control module: This module provides pulses which control the neutron output, allowing neutrons to be produced in pulses or continuously.
Replenisher driver module: This module controls the heating of the replenisher element, which must be regulated to provide a constant gas pressure in the neutron generator.
High voltage insulation solution: Encapsulation and SF6 dielectric gas system
Anti-shock and high-pressure solutions: optimal internal arrangement and high-pressure housing

Table of specifications

Neutron emission:

Neutron energy:

Neutron output in average:

Duty cycle:

Pulse width:

14 MeV

1*10^8 n/s

From 5% to 50%, nominal 10%

From 10 μs to 1 ms

Electrical parameter:

Accelerating voltage:

Average beam current:

Ion source voltage:

Ion source current:

Replenisher voltage:

Replenisher current:

From -70 kV to -90 kV, nominal -80 kV

From 40 μA to 100 μA, nominal 60 μA

~ +2 kV

Up to 1 mA

Up to 1.3 V, nominal 1.3 V

From 750 mA to 900 mA

Mechanical parameter:

Outer diameter:

Length:

Weight:

Pressure:

Shock tolerance:

38 mm

2.05 m

~ 10 kg

103 MPa

10 G

Working temperature:

Operating temperature:

Storage temperature:

Up to 150

Up to 60

Availability:

Expected lifetime:

Minimum 1000 hours at 150, 1*10^8 n/s

Radiation safety:

Tritium content:

Sealed device

Surface contamination:

120 GBq (i.e. 3.2 Curie)

No contamination at delivery

Hazards:

Pressurized SF6 gas

Internal High Voltage

Radiation Hazards when thegenerator produces neutrons