Neutron - Protection


Exposure to free neutrons can be hazardous, since the interaction of neutrons with molecules in the body can cause disruption to molecules and atoms, and can also cause reactions which give rise to other forms of radiation (such as protons). The normal precautions of radiation protection apply: avoid exposure, stay as far from the source as possible, and keep exposure time to a minimum. Some particular thought must be given to how to protect from neutron exposure, however. For other types of radiation, e.g. alpha particles, beta particles, or gamma rays, material of a high atomic number and with high density make for good shielding; frequently lead is used. However, this approach will not work with neutrons, since the absorption of neutrons does not increase straightforwardly with atomic number, as it does with alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Instead one needs to look at the particular interactions neutrons have with matter (see the section on detection above). For example, hydrogen-rich materials are often used to shield against neutrons, since ordinary hydrogen both scatters and slows neutrons. This often means that simple concrete blocks or even paraffin-loaded plastic blocks afford better protection from neutrons than do far more dense materials. After slowing, neutrons may then be absorbed with an isotope which has high affinity for slow neutrons without causing secondary capture-radiation, such as lithium-6.

Hydrogen-rich ordinary water affects neutron absorption in nuclear fission reactors: usually neutrons are so strongly absorbed by normal water that fuel-enrichment with fissionable isotope is required. The deuterium in heavy water has a very much lower absorption affinity for neutrons than does protium (normal light hydrogen). Deuterium is therefore used in CANDU-type reactors, in order to slow (moderate) neutron velocity, to increase the probability of nuclear fission compared to neutron capture.

Read more about this topic:  Neutron

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Famous quotes containing the word protection:

    We’re for statehood. We want statehood because statehood means the protection of our farms and our fences; and it means schools for our children; and it means progress for the future.
    Willis Goldbeck (1900–1979)

    Men speak of natural rights, but I challenge any one to show where in nature any rights existed or were recognized until there was established for their declaration and protection a duly promulgated body of corresponding laws.
    Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933)

    Take away from the courts, if it could be taken away, the power to issue injunctions in labor disputes, and it would create a privileged class among the laborers and save the lawless among their number from a most needful remedy available to all men for the protection of their business interests against unlawful invasion.... The secondary boycott is an instrument of tyranny, and ought not to be made legitimate.
    William Howard Taft (1857–1930)