With over 40 years' experience in the design, production and use of neutron technologies, SODERN's engineers are pushing ahead with the design and development of a new-generation neutron logging probe. This new tool, which will directly probe the material in boreholes, will make it possible to analyse the elemental characteristics of the ore before its extraction.
This method of analysis is a major breakthrough on the conventional core sampling method, which requires the laboratory analysis of thousands of samples. The in-situ analysis obtained with this probe will do away with the costly operations involved in the coring, transport and preparation of samples. Moreover, the analysis will be much more accurate and will be available in real time.
For its analyses, the probe uses the PFTNA (Pulsed Fast & Thermal Neutron Activation) method. To avoid the use of a radioactive isotopic source, which is dangerous and prohibited for underground analysis operations, SODERN's probe is based on the use of an electrical source which poses no radiological risk for the environment in the event of loss of the tool in the borehole. The neutron tube, initially designed for oil exploration at great depths, has been specially optimised for reliability and durability in a confined environment. The detection unit consists of a new-generation inorganic scintillator which is particularly resistant to temperature fluctuations and provides a spectral resolution two to three times that of standard scintillators.
This new neutron logging tool will be marketed by SODERN at the end of 2012. In the meantime, the last prototype is being finalised and calibrated in Australia for an iron ore application. The use of this tool for nickel and copper ore is also under study.