Coal, Cement, and MineralsPNGAA is a non-destructive, non-contact method of material analysis. Prior to extraction, PGNAA can be used to detect the presence of gas, oil, sand, and shale deposits within a given site. It is also used to continuously monitor the composition of material in real-time as it is extracted and transported on a conveyor belt.

In a PGNAA system, the material in question is bombarded with neutrons from a Cf-252 neutron source. This in turn causes the constituent elements in the material to produce gamma rays, which are evaluated to determine the chemical makeup of the material.

Because it spontaneously emits neutrons, Cf-252 enables quick on-site analysis of full cross-sections of samples. It also has a high melting point (~900° C), so it can be used in high-heat environments.

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Our guide offers a comprehensive overview of the PGNAA process, including what it is, how it works, what advantages it offers, how and where it is used, and the importance of Cf-252.

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Choosing Frontier for PGNAA Material Analysis

Since our establishment in 1984, Frontier Technology Corporation has provided californium-252 neutron sources for clients across a wide range of industries, including the design and manufacturing of neutron sources in the coal, cement, and mineral industries.

Frontier Technology Corporation supplies and manufactures custom californium-252 neutron sources that can meet the needs of many applications in these industries. Our double-encapsulated sources consist of a series of inner and outer capsule chambers. These containers also include a wire form of the Cf-252 isotope of up to 5 mg. In addition to neutron sources and shipping containers, we provide testing, product research, and monitoring services.

The materials we use to construct our capsules include platinum, Zircaloy-2, and 304L stainless steel, along with other alloys. We use our advanced manufacturing processes to manufacture each capsule, including circumferential seal welding and TIG welding processes. We customize all Cf-252 sources based on our customers’ unique specifications.

Please contact us to learn more or to request a free quote.

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Uses of Californium in Material Analysis

The PGNAA process often uses bulk material analyzers to process material samples. This equipment uses a combination of conveyor or carrying belts, neutron sources, neutron detectors, and electronic controls to complete the material analysis. Specifically, the analysis process entails capturing neutrons while emitting gamma rays, which analyzers then measure to identify neutron-capturing materials. Concentrations become apparent based on the peak intensities at these energies.

One of the best neutron sources to use in these analyzers is Cf-252, as it is one of the most reliable and affordable neutron sources for PGNAA in the coal, cement, and mineral industries. Its reliability also makes it ideal for detecting and identifying explosives, land mines, and other types of unexploded military ordnance.


PGNAA systems analyze raw material used for cement production on-site as it travels on the conveyor belt. This provides more accurate data than sampling alone, and is more efficient than transporting samples to a lab or other facility for analysis. With Cf-252 neutron sources and PGNAA, cement producers are able to determine the presence and concentration of elements like iron, silicon, chlorine, and calcium in real time in order to make data-driven decisions and enhance quality control.

PGNAA is also a critical tool for verifying consistency of cement products, in order to ensure safety and durability in construction and other applications.


The Cf-252 neutron sources in PGNAA systems make it possible to identify the presence, absence, and concentration of elements like sulfur, silicon, aluminum, iron, sodium, and others in raw materials. This allows for real-time decision making to meet product specifications and coal blending requirements.

Minerals and Metals

PGNAA systems use Cf-252 neutron sources to detect the presence and concentration of chlorine and hydrogen in iron and ore smelting. They are also used to detect copper, gold, silver, and other metals and elements at mining sites. Data obtained with PGNAA systems are critical to the process of blending the feed of raw materials during milling.


Cf-252 is used in the calibration of PGNAA equipment. Before it can be used in the field a PGNAA system must be factory calibrated with representative samples of material typically encountered onsite. Static samples with a range of known compositions are used to verify the accuracy of the system. Post-installation validation and fine tuning on site are also part of the calibration process.

Custom Californium-252 Neutron Sources

Based on the needs of our customers in the coal, mineral, and cement industries, we can develop the ideal solution to meet these requirements. We offer 32 versions of Cf-252 sources of standard length, which are available in multiple combinations of outer and inner capsule materials. To maintain safe transportation and implementation of these neutron sources, we transport these products in Type A radioactive shipping containers. Once you have used the material, ship it to us for fee-free disposal after covering the costs of shipping and handling.

Cf-252 offers a variety of benefits that make it useful for those in the coal, cement, and mineral industries. Frontier is a leading global supplier of Cf-252 neutron sources for PGNAA systems, neutron shielding, and other nuclear solutions.

Find out more about our Cf-252 sources in our free eBook, A Complete Guide to Californium-252 Solutions at FTC. If you have any questions, contact us and we’ll put you in touch with a representative. To get started on a custom solution for your application request a quote today.



About Frontier Technology Corporation

Frontier Technology Corporation (FTC) is the world leader in californium-252 neutron source manufacturing and design, and is the foremost expert in logistics and shipping of radioactive material. Founded in 1984 by Treva Janzow and the late Edward Janzow, Frontier Technology is located in Xenia, Ohio. Frontier Technology has over 40 years industry experience in providing the highest-quality neutron sources, PINS sources, nuclear start-up rods, TYPE-A shipping containers, WEP shielding, and antimony-beryllium pellets.