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Comparison of DA and NDA

The HM-5 (fieldSPEC) is a modern, handheld digital gamma spectrometer combining various functions such as dose rate measurement, source search, isotope identification, active length determination for fuel rods and assemblies, and Pu/U attribute verification. (Source: Dean Calma/IAEA)
The HM-5 (fieldSPEC) is a modern, handheld digital gamma spectrometer combining various functions such as dose rate measurement, source search, isotope identification, active length determination for fuel rods and assemblies, and Pu/U attribute verification. (Source: Dean Calma/IAEA) 

Destructive Analysis (DA)

  • Slower (includes time to transport and analyze samples)
  • Requires a fixed laboratory
  • Measures some part of an item (not the whole thing)
  • Generally very expensive
  • Most accurate

Non-Destructive Assay (NDA)

  • Quicker (sometimes real-time)
  • Portable instruments
  • Usually measures an entire item not just a part of it
  • Usually less expensive
  • Usually less accurate

NDA is generally the preferred method, unless high accuracy is needed.  There are also several instances in which DA is not practical.  These include:

  • Large number of measurements are needed
  • Information on SNM is needed rapidly
  • Samples are heterogeneous (i.e., sampling errors)
  • Material composition is unknown
  • Material is inaccessible for sampling (e.g., holdup, sealed product items, etc.)

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