International Society for Neutron Radiology (ISNR)

BIG 5 ON NEUTRON RADIOGRAPHY

The technical activities of the ISNR during the time 1st – 8th October in South Africa evolved around hosting a School: “Imaging with radiation” (1st & 2nd October) at iThembaLABS (Gauteng) in Johannesburg as well as the WCNR-9 (3rd -8th October) held in the African Bush and at Kwa-Maritane Bush Lodge within the Pilansberg National Nature reserve in the North West province. It was a great pleasure to be the host for 50 trainees for the School and 90 delegates to the WCNR-9 activities of whom several delegates were experienced the African continent and/or South Africa for the first time in good weather and bright sunlight – what a memorable time it was where the African spirit could be experienced in song and dance and entertainment while serious discussions during the 4 and a half day around neutron radiography and related scientific activities took place in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.

To those who did not have the opportunity to be at Kwa-Maritane (e.g. participants from Algeria, France, India, South Korea or South America) – you have missed a lifetime memorable experience and to those who could attend – please come back, despite the many hours of flight and enjoy again the friendliness of the African people and South Africa, our wonderful country once more.

The theme of the African leg in the series of world conferences on neutron radiography “The Big-5 on Neutron radiography” is synonymous to the most sought animals to be known and to be seen in the wild, known better as the BIG-5 e.g. lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros. Without those animals the African bush , the animal kingdom will cease to exists – so for the basic and key components of the neutron radiography technique without which no radiograph can be obtained (e.g. neutron sources, - beams, - methods, - applications and – detectors) the technique ceases to produce results. All the 64 oral and 30 poster presentations were categorized into those 5 themes within the scientific program which consisted out of 14 sessions spread over the 4 days and presented by delegates from 19 countries.

On Monday, 4th October 2010, the WCNR-9 was officially opened by Prof. Petro Terblanche, General Manager of the R&D division of Necsa. Mr. Frikkie de Beer, president of the ISNR and chairman of the local organization committee WCNR-9 welcomed all the participants and wished a fruitful conference.

From the beginning of the conference and continued throughout, all the presentations of the participants were of high standard and quality. Within the comfortable air cooled hall of the conference center all participants engaged deeply into the science and technology of all aspects of neutron radiography and related sciences. A couple of new upcoming reactor based facilities were presented (Morocco and Australia), while emphasis was given on the neutron imaging facilities at new spallation sources (ESS and JPARC).

The importance of cold neutron beams and their scientific analytical value in neutron imaging were enhanced by a number of 9 oral/poster presentations in total – especially in polarized neutron studies of magnets. Applications of neutron imaging presented ranged from paleontology, archeology, aircraft structures, porous media, fuel cell technology to high resolution imaging to name a few.

Detectors for neutron imaging, which through the years the major drawback of the technology to limit the spatial resolution to 100 micro-meters, came under the spotlight with a few new presentations in the range of fast neutron imaging. A presentation about new re-usable shielding materials, being developed at FRM-II drew the attention because of its high performance - minimizing weight due to its high neutron and gamma shielding capabilities. Several key note speakers started a series of sessions on key topics related to neutron imaging.

Two software application IT packages, Octopus and Volume Graphics were presented due to the high utilization of the software in the neutron imaging fraternity. As main key note speaker, Prof. H. Kobayashi proudly presented, also as honorable member of the ISNR, a summary of his lifelong contribution to the science of neutron imaging. Aspects, technology and applications of the whole range of neutron energies (cold, thermal and fast) were presented while advanced topics such as phase contrast imaging and mono-energetic neutron beams completed the scope of oral and poster activities.

A couple of new countries were represented for the first time at a world conference – they are Morocco, China and New Zealand while South Africa with 18 scientists, as host country, has the most participants attending.

All the delegates to the conference could nominate and vote for the new ISNR board that was announced at the end of the conference. Eberhard Lehmann was elected as President of the Society for the term 2010 – 2014 and to be the host of the WCNR-10 in Switzerland in 2014. The elected members of the new board are being mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter.

The scientific program closed with a scientific visit to the nuclear facilities of Necsa on Friday, 8th October. Delegates had the opportunity to visit the gallery of the SAFARI-1 nuclear research reactor, obtaining information about the reactor as well as on the more commercial activities (medical isotope production and SAFARI-1 role in the global nuclear medicine industry). The South African neutron Radiography facility (SANRAD) on the beam port floor was the key attraction in the short tour – the plans for the new SANRAD facility at SAFARI-1 will be described in the next NR newsletter. The PLABS laboratory, a neutron acceleration facility consisting out of 2 x RFQ accelerators for fast neutron science, formed part of the tour and a visit to the laboratories for X-ray imaging completed the tour to Necsa and the end of the program of the WCNR-9.

A number of 70 papers were submitted for peer review and for publication as special edition of the proceedings of the WCNR-9 in the international journal of Nuclear Instruments and Methods-A.

SCHOOL “IMAGING WITH RADIATION”: 1st – 2nd October 2010

The aim of the school, being presented prior to the WCNR-9, was to expose South African- and visiting young scientists, lecturers and post graduate students in South Africa and Africa to the basic principles of radiography, provide training and capacity building, to assist with the creation of an expert knowledge base for the South African R&D community and to promote the use of the technology in general. The success, in hosting the school, were measured in the consistent attendance of 50 participants on both 2 days and feedback on the valuable knowledge gained by several South African researchers from all the invited international lecturers who presented over the 2 day period.

On day-1 of the school, the basic knowledge and the principles around X-ray- and neutron radiography were presented by Nikolay Kardjilov, Jelle Vlassenbroeck, Burkhard Schillinger, Eberhard Lehmann and Anders Kaestner.

Day-2 was dedicated to the special software normally being utilized by many neutron- and X-ray facilities, Octopus, for reconstruction of projections into virtual volumes and VGStudio for the visualization in 3D data of the sample. Jelle Vlassenbroeck from InCT (Ghent, Belgium) and Daniela Handl from Volume Graphics (Heidelberg, Germany), respectively, presented these topics and many practical handling and utilization problems were addressed and solved.

An excursion to the “World of Beer” within Johannesburg city center and a traditional Braai were on the menu as social events which were thoroughly enjoyed.

Social program of WCNR-9

No conference can be a success without the particular social program which complements the scientific one. In the case of the WCNR-9, the social program reflected the true African nature and offered a showcase of the African culture and activities.

The welcome cocktail on Sunday evening with the traditional hand washing and face painting ceremony started the event in the right mood. Frikkie de Beer, Chairman of the LOC of WCNR-9, welcomed the delegates back to Africa with remark: “Welcome Home” as it is believed that mankind originated from Africa. Soft violin and cello background music (Joalet and Elisna de Beer) created an atmosphere together with colorful lights and open fires under the Southern sky for old friends to meet again in a true African environment and setting.

The program of WCNR-9 started with a drumming session during the opening ceremony event on Monday morning where all participants joined in into the rhythm and beat of the African drum and Zulu culture. The evening social programs entailed a star gazing event with the Southern sky under discussion through several game rangers from Kwa-Maritane showing the Southern Cross and other important sky features.

The highlight of the evening social program was a late afternoon/evening game drive which ended in a Boma where the dinner (Braaivleis, sosaties, boerewors, pap, etc.) was being prepared and the delegates entertained by a group of African tribal dancers while some delegates took the change to join in the dance and festivities. A Marimba band entertained the delegates until deep into the night and it was a pity to say goodbye to the friendly African entertainers.

The gala dinner was a highlight in itself as the conference venue was completely changed in to a dining hall, carefully decorated. A brass band with an African lady entertained the delegates during the evening with song and music. The highlight of the evening was the first official announcement of elected honorable members of the ISNR (Barton, Berger and Kobayashi) and the personal presentation of a certificate to Prof. Kobayashi – the only one who could attend the conference. The honorable membership was bestowed upon these gentlemen for their life long contribution in the science and technology of neutron radiography.

A visit to Africa and being on a game drive completes the full picture. The delegates could, on a couple of days experience an early morning or late evening game drive, called safari, within the Pilansberg nature reserve and could be able to spot, and in some cases meet, during the course of the conference, 3 of the “big-5”, Lion, Elephant and rhinoceros as well as many smaller antelopes and predators within their natural habitat.

A successful accompanied persons program was also launched and organized by Chevaune de Beer. It entailed a visit to Palace of the Lost City in the Sun City complex, a typical South African town Rustenburg as well as the crocodile- and butterfly world. Thank you for your assistance.

A word of thanks to the sponsors: Both events were sponsored by Necsa, the IAEA, Volume Graphics, the National Research fund (NRF) and South African Institute of Non-destructive Testing (SAINT).

The LOC would like to thank all delegates who participated in the WCNR-9 events and contributed to its success - we all to meet again in Canada for the ITNMR-7 in 2012.
For me personally, to be in a position to organize the event was a once in a life time experience and an honor to be the chairman and host to the WCNR-9 successfully. It was an honor to work together as President with colleagues within the board of the ISNR who made it an easy task for me to chair. Together we could make good progress in the organization and structure of the ISNR (introduction of honorable membership, utilization of the ISNR website, publishing of the NR newsletter on a frequent basis, etc.). A word of special thanks to Thomas Bücherl (Secretary) and Eberhard Lehmann (former vice President).

My wish is that all the participants could take something back from Africa to remember and to cherish and left South Africa with the idea to visit “HOME” again in the future.

Frikkie de Beer

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