Simultaneous reconstruction of emission and attenuation in passive gamma emission tomography of spent nuclear fuel

Rasmus Backholm (University of Helsinki & STUK)
21.10.2019, Exactum C124, 3pm-4pm


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently approved passive gamma emission tomography (PGET) as a method for inspecting spent nuclear fuel assemblies (SFAs), an important aspect of international nuclear safeguards. The PGET instrument is essentially a single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) system that allows the reconstruction of axial cross-sections of the emission map of the SFA. The fuel material strongly self-attenuates its gamma-ray emissions, so that correctly accounting for the attenuation is a critical factor in producing accurate images. Due to the nature of the inspections, it is desirable to use as little a priori information as possible about the fuel, including the attenuation map, in the reconstruction process. Current reconstruction methods either do not correct for attenuation, assume a uniform attenuation throughout the fuel assembly, or assume an attenuation map based on an initial filtered back projection reconstruction. Here, we propose a method to simultaneously reconstruct the emission and attenuation maps by formulating the reconstruction as a constrained minimization problem with a least squares data fidelity term and regularization terms. The performance of the proposed method, with two different regularizers, is evaluated with simulated data that includes missing rods and rods replaced with fresh fuel. The method is shown to produce good results when comparing the reconstructions to the ground truth by various numerical metrics, and when classifying the rods with the method currently employed by the IAEA. Additionally, the proposed method is shown to allow for an enhanced classification method that uses also the reconstructed attenuation map.