Dosimetry in Thermal Neutron Irradiation Facility at BMRR
1 NYS Professional Engineer, National Synchrotron Light Source II, Brookhaven Laboratory, NY 11973, USA
2 Guest Physicist, National Nuclear Data Center, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA
3 Health Physicist (retired), Radiological Control Division, Brookhaven Laboratory, Upton, NY 11973, USA
Published online: 3 February 2016
Radiation dosimetry for Neutron Capture Therapy (NCT) has been performed since 1959 at Thermal Neutron Irradiation Facility (TNIF) of the three-megawatt light-water cooled Brookhaven Medical Research Reactor (BMRR). In the early 1990s when more effective drug carriers were developed for NCT, in which the eye melanoma and brain tumors in rats were irradiated in situ, extensive clinical trials of small animals began using a focused thermal neutron beam. To improve the dosimetry at irradiation facility, a series of innovative designs and major modifications made to enhance the beam intensity and to ease the experimental sampling at BMRR were performed; including (1) in-core fuel addition to increase source strength and balance flux of neutrons towards two ports, (2) out of core moderator remodeling, done by replacing thicker D2O tanks at graphite-shutter interfacial areas, to expedite neutron thermalization, (3) beam shutter upgrade to reduce strayed neutrons and gamma dose, (4) beam collimator redesign to optimize the beam flux versus dose for animal treatment, (5) beam port shielding installation around the shutter opening area (lithium-6 enriched polyester-resin in boxes, attached with polyethylene plates) to reduce prompt gamma and fast neutron doses, (6) sample holder repositioning to optimize angle versus distance for a single organ or whole body irradiation, and (7) holder wall buildup with neutron reflector materials to increase dose and dose rate from scattered thermal neutrons. During the facility upgrade, reactor dosimetry was conducted using thermoluminescent dosimeters TLD for gamma dose estimate, using ion chambers to confirm fast neutron and gamma dose rate, and by the activation of gold-foils with and without cadmium-covers, for fast and thermal neutron flux determination. Based on the combined effect from the size and depth of tumor cells and the location and geometry of dosimeters, the measured flux from cadmium-difference method was 4–7% lower than the statistical mean derived from the Monte-Carlo modeling (5% uncertainty). The dose rate measured by ion chambers was 6–10% lower than the output tallies (7% uncertainty). The detailed dosimetry that was performed at the TNIF for the NCT will be described.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2016
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.