Green light for EARTH plans
The Governing Board of the Foundation Sensor Universe, met in Zwolle on 10 December. Among the plans presented to the Board was a proposal by EARTH to aim for two parallel detector develops. This plan is initiated by the discussions at the IAEA (see Novenber News) and with representatives of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) in South Africa. The plan calls for the building of a detector similar to the one developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Sandia in the USA and a continuation of the detector development along the lines of the GiZA detector. The LLNL detector has been tested near the San Onofre Nuclear Generator System (SONGS) in California and has shown that such a detector is able to check the status of the reactor (on/off), its power level and the composition of the fuel by measuring antineutrino fluxes. Since antineutrinos hardly interact with matter they penetrate the concrete/steel containment wall of the reactor core and hence can be detected without interference with the reactor operation. In the LLNL detector neutrons are detected by the gamma-rays emitted in the capture by Gadolinium. Gamma-rays have a large range in the detector and hence the volume of the detector and its shielding becomes rather large (two to three meters for length, height and depth). In the GiZA detector the neutrons are detected by alpha-particles released after the capture by boron. The alpha-particles have a range of micrometers and offer the opportunity to reduce the “footprint” of the detector. Moreover the GiZA approach leads to modular detectors that can be placed at several locations along the reactor vessel. This is an important aspect for the tall PBMR reactor. The Governing Board of the Foundation Sensor Universe has given green light for the EARTH plans, which means that a consortium with knowledge institutions and industry can be formed. Sensor Universe will assist in doubling the contributions of the institutes and industry. In principle the scientific/technical aspects have been approved.