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DNDO Seeks Advanced Radiation Detection Methodologies and Technologies

Editor’s Note: The white paper submission deadline for this BAA has passed. We’re providing this information as a summary of the BAA opportunity in advance of DNDO closing out the full proposal deadline in early 2017.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is pursuing exploratory research under Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Solicitation Number: HDHQDN-16-R-0002.

The following summarized topic areas are addressed in the BAA:

Advancements in Low-Cost Plastic Scintillators for Gamma Detection

Plastic scintillators offer the possibility of very low cost and very large size gamma radiation detectors. The larger sizes are often used in radiation portal monitors (RPMs) at ports of entry along the nation’s borders and overseas. Current plastics are low cost but also have poor energy resolution. Further, these plastics can exhibit degraded performance over time when subjected to extreme environmental conditions.

Recent R&D in plastics technology has resulted in a number of advances, including improved efficiency for detection of gammas, improved pulse shape discrimination (PSD) to distinguish gammas from neutrons, and improved energy resolution. Performance enhancements are achieved with the right mix of additives, including primary and secondary fluors (dyes), crosslinkers, initiators, metals, and/or organometallic complexes.

This topic area is composed of two sub-topics. Sub-topic A ventures to demonstrate scale-up of the more promising spectroscopic plastics compositions. Sub-topic B seeks to gain a better understanding of the stability of standard scintillator plastics and will explore sensitivity degradation mechanisms and their dependence on material properties and composition.

Approaches for Advanced Continuous Monitoring of Radiological/Nuclear Threats by Law Enforcement Vehicles

This topic seeks concepts for low cost, high sensitivity gamma radiation detectors that can be readily integrated with law enforcement vehicles; and utilization of vehicle cameras and sensors to provide situational awareness and context for wide area radiation detection.

These sensors include on-board GPS, dash-cams and other vehicle mounted video systems, and other sensors being integrated in modern vehicles supporting semi-autonomous driving, to include LIDAR, stereo camera and short and long-range radars.

Law enforcement personnel are already over-burdened with a wide range of missions and employing a wide range of personal equipment. Wide-area radiation/nuclear (RN) threat monitoring would be enabled if detection systems were seamlessly integrated with law enforcement vehicles, and were enhanced through utilization of ancillary sensor data already generated by these vehicles.

Development of Accelerators with Applications to Homeland Security

DNDO has been sponsored a range of research and development efforts that utilize active detection approaches (e.g., radiography, induced fission) to overcome challenges of detecting shielded nuclear materials. These applications require the use of a radiation source of penetrating particles capable of inspecting large cargo containers, conveyances or objects, and providing information in either the transmitted beam or from induced signatures on the presence of high atomic number or nuclear materials.

Currently only a handful radiation sources can be used for Homeland Security applications because of such factors as cost, performance or required operational footprint. This topic supports development of accelerators with improved performance for Homeland Security applications for pulsed or continuous wave operation that enable non-intrusive inspection (NII) and active interrogation (AI) systems that specifically support Homeland Security requirements.

Modeling to Improve Risk Assessment and Encounter Dynamics in Challenging Pathways

DNDO is seeking to enhance detection and interdiction capabilities of radiological/nuclear (RN) material trafficking in between primary Ports and Points of Entry (POEs) into the United States. These challenging pathways are often characterized by expansive geographic regions, a lack of suitable chokepoints for radiation measurement, and highly variable routes.

This topic area seeks proposals to develop modeling and simulation tools that can enhance the probability of encounter of law enforcement assets with persons or conveyances that may carry illicit RN material or threat devices through these pathways. This includes pattern-of-life analysis; trafficking behavior indicators; and adversary behavior modeling within agent-based models.

Development of Materials to Support Fundamental Nuclear Data Targets and Nuclear Forensics Reference Materials

Many materials needed for fundamental nuclear data targets and nuclear forensics reference or well-pedigreed materials are not available and difficult to obtain because they originate in a nuclear reactor or accelerator and must then be carefully processed. In many cases, the desired materials require advanced chemical and/or isotopic separation methods for purification.

Innovative techniques are sought to generate targets and reference or well-pedigreed materials of sufficient size and with controlled material properties, including isotopic and elemental purity, chemical speciation, and material form.


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