Helium-3 (3He) is a necessary component of many nuclear detection devices; however our country is facing a Helium-3 shortage. To address this shortage, DHS’ Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is advancing the search for efficient, cost-effective alternative technologies.
After weeks of rigorous testing, DNDO completed a test campaign for alternative technologies to smaller Helium-3 dependent radiation detection systems. During the test campaign, conducted at the Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures Test and Evaluation Complex at the Nevada National Security Site, DNDO evaluated 39 different neutron detection technologies, such as handhelds, backpacks and vehicle-mounted equipment.
DNDO provided post-test information to participating vendors to help accelerate device development. These technologies are being developed through government-sponsored research or by commercial manufacturers, expediting product development while reducing government cost.
In August 2011, DNDO successfully completed a two-year effort to find replacement technologies for the 3He neutron detectors in Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs), identifying three replacement alternative 3He technologies which are now used in commercial production.
DNDO works in collaboration with the private sector to anticipate shortages of important resources such as Helium-3, to ensure the country’s capability to protect against potential radiological and nuclear threats.