The Berkeley Instrumental Neutron Generator (BINGE) for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Timothy A. Becker1, Lee Bernstein2, Richard B Firestone3, Leo Kirsch4, Ka-Ngo Leung4, Paul Randall Renne1,5, Andrew Rogers3, Karl Van Bibber4 and Cory Waltz4, (1)Berkeley Geochronology Center, Berkeley, CA, United States, (2)Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, United States, (3)Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, United States, (4)University of California Berkeley, Nuclear Engineering, Berkeley, CA, United States, (5)University of California Berkeley, Earth and Planetary Science, Berkeley, CA, United States
The Berkeley Instrumental Neutron Generator (BINGE) facility is the product of a consortium involving the Berkeley Geochronology Center (BGC), the U.C. Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Dept. (UCB/NE), and Lawrence Berkeley (LBNL) and Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) National Labs. BINGE was initially designed (and funded by NSF) for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology. BINGE uses a plasma-based deuteron ion source and a self-loading Ti-surfaced target to induce deuteron-deuterium (DD) fusion via the reaction 2H(d,n)3He, producing 2.45 MeV neutrons. The limited neutron energy spectrum is aimed at reducing recoil effects, interfering nuclear reactions, and unwanted radioactive byproducts, all of which are undesirable consequences of conventional irradiation with 235U fission spectrum neutrons. Minimization of interfering reactions such as 40Ca(n,na)36Ar greatly reduces penalties for over-irradiation, enabling improved signal/background measurement of e.g. 39Ar. BINGE will also be used for a variety of nuclear physics and engineering experiments that require a high flux of monoenergetic neutrons. Neutron energies lower than 2.45 MeV can be obtained via irradiation ports within and external to polyethylene shielding. Initial commissioning produced a neutron flux of 108 n/sec/cm2 at 1 mA source current and 100 kV anode voltage, as expected. When scaled up to the 1 A source current as planned, this indicates that BINGE will achieve the design objective neutron flux of 1011 n/sec/cm2. Further progress towards this goal will be reported. Supported by NSF (grant #EAR-0960138), BGC, UCB/NE, University of California Office of the President, and DOE through LLNL under contract #DE-AC52-07NA27344 and LBNL under contract #DE-AC02-05CH11231.