Optimization studies of photoneutron production
The development possibilities of the powerful photoneutron source for medicine are studied. The basis of the proposed concept is liquid gallium as the target/coolant for a powerful and compact electron accelerator. The fixed fragment of the target – a matrix of churlish tungsten, through which the gallium goes, dramatically increases the yield of photoneutrons. At the interaction of accelerated electrons with a massive target of Ga&W the main channel of energy loss is the bremsstrahlung. At electron energies above 15 MeV the bremsstrahlung gamma quanta are absorbed by the nuclei of Ga&W, and neutrons are emitted in the reactions (γ, n) in an energy region of so#called hyper-giant dipole resonance. Gallium is chosen as an accelerator target/coolant, because of its small induced activity which falls down quickly enough; herein the neutron yield is sufficient for the Nuclear Capture Therapy (NCT) providing. Thus, for characteristic irradiation at NCT, the target’s activity decay up to background will occur practically during four days. Besides, liquid gallium has necessary thermohydraulic characteristics as the coolant: a) low flowing temperature, and b) wide range of liquid-phase temperature. It means that radiation heat release in the target could be readily removed. The results of calculations for the photoneutrons removal block with combined target and its adaptation to the problems of neutron therapy are presented. Currently, as the competitive neutron therapy is increasingly becoming the NCT namely, and it is perceived by the community. Optimization of the target in order to maximize the neutron beam’s NCT characteristics with the organization of practically feasible heat-removal scheme was done. For the normalization of the results, the characteristics of available accelerator were taken: the average current of 4 mA at 35 MeV of electron energy. The optimal combined target «W+Ga» together with the optimal removal block allowed a tremendous increase in the intensity of the neutron beam while ensuring acceptable conditions of heat removing. At the 4 m/s of coolant velocity, the maximum temperature of the tungsten matrix is equal to 1300°C, while the coolant temperature is not higher than 290°C. It is shown that in this case the beam quality for NCT has hardly changed, and the exposure time required for the administered dose delivering is substantially reduced; epithermal flux density («therapeutic» neutrons) in the patient’s position is about 15 to 40 times greater than the flux density of existing and planned reactor beams for NCT.
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