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August 18, 2020 | Predicting induced radioactivity in medical accelerators

radioact 250CEA List, a CEA Tech institute, has mapped the parts that present induced radioactivity in medical particle accelerators, information that is vital to dismantling the equipment safely.

Increasing numbers of the particle accelerators used in radiation therapy are reaching the ends of their lifespans, which raises the issue of dismantling the machines and managing radioactive waste. Particle accelerators contain parts with complex geometries, some of which become radioactive due to their activation with accelerated beams and exposure to the secondary particles generated by interaction with radioactive material. The first challenge is knowing exactly which parts are radioactive. The types and amounts of radioactivity must also be determined. ANDRA, France's national radioactive waste management agency, turned to CEA List, a member of the Carnot Network, for help dealing with this new problem.

CEA List lab LNHB (Laboratoire National Henri Becquerel) utilized geometric data from the Varian radiotherapy accelerator at the DOSEO platform and leveraged CEA List's expertise in Monte Carlo simulations to model the functioning of a medical accelerator and its consequences on the parts that make up the machine. The researchers were able to map the induced radioactivity in the different parts and classify them by the type of radiation emitted (beta or gamma rays).

ANDRA will use the data to ensure that radioactive waste produced from the dismantling of medical accelerators is managed properly. This groundbreaking research positions CEA List as a source the international community can turn to for an accurate and reliable methodology for the management of radioactive waste from medical accelerators.

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