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Replacement for High-Efficiency Neutron Detectors

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is seeking proposals for a “Replacement for High-Efficiency Neutron Detectors Based on Very High Pressurized He-3 Tubes in Military Systems.”

The effort supports a wide range of important equipment and systems, including nuclear search & characterization assets, portable radiation monitors (backpacks, handhelds), fission detectors, small size-weight-power detectors, wide-area deployment detectors.

The requirement is part of this year’s Department of Defense Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) approved topics. The RIF is designed to quickly transition innovative technologies that resolve operational challenges into acquisition programs. Those selected for award may receive up to $3 million and will have up to two years to perform the work.

Following the on-going execution of the RIF FY13 topic, “Neutron Detectors for Direct Replacement of He-3 Tubes in Military Systems,” DTRA concluded that direct replacement using 1”- or 2”- diameter boron-coated straw tubes is unlikely to meet the sensitivity of some of the military search and localization assets historically based on very high pressure He-3 tubes, e.g., 10-atmospheres to 20-atmospheres.

While these military assets are mission critical, replacement with gaseous He-3 tube today is cost prohibitive. It is imperative to the DoD to utilize other low-cost, enabling He-3 replacement technologies DTRA developed in the past that specifically targeted toward high sensitivity neutron detection applications.

These technologies can either be confined in tube configuration still meeting the high sensitivity desired or in some cases a brand new design with similar form factor for even better sensitivity. They can be packaged within the geometry of the existing military systems they are intended to replace. The detector shall demonstrate detection efficiency at least equivalent to that of high-pressure He-3 tubes in the military systems.

Significant performance benefits over He-3 tubes must also be demonstrated, including no pressurization, lower power consumption, larger/faster signals, and lower cost electronics.

The effort supports DTRA Technical Support Group (TSG), the 20th SUPCOM (CBRNE), USSOCOM, Defense Intelligence Agency, Joint Project Manager – Radiological & Nuclear Defense, Homeland Security applications, and the Neutron Science/Detection Community

Further details are available via Solicitation Number: HQ0034-16-BAA-RIF-0001B, Requirement Number: DTRA-16-BAA-RIF-0001. The response deadline is May 03, 2016.

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