On the treatment of ill-conditioned cases in the Monte Carlo library least-squares approach for inverse radiation analyzers

Prompt gamma-ray neutron activation analysis (PGNAA) has been and still is one of the major methods of choice for the elemental analysis of various bulk samples. This is mostly due to the fact that PGNAA offers a rapid, non-destructive and on-line means of sample interrogation.

The quantitative analysis of the prompt gamma-ray data could, on the other hand, be performed either through the single peak analysis or the so-called Monte Carlo library least-squares (MCLLS) approach, of which the latter has been shown to be more sensitive and more accurate than the former. The MCLLS approach is based on the assumption that the total prompt gamma-ray spectrum of any sample is a linear combination of the contributions from the individual constituents or libraries. This assumption leads to, through the minimization of the chi-square value, a set of linear equations which has to be solved to obtain the library multipliers, a process that involves the inversion of the covariance matrix. The least-squares solution may be extremely uncertain due to the ill-conditioning of the covariance matrix. The covariance matrix will become ill-conditioned whenever, in the subsequent calculations, two or more libraries are highly correlated. The ill-conditioning will also be unavoidable whenever the sample contains trace amounts of certain elements or elements with significantly low thermal neutron capture cross-sections. In this work, a new iterative approach, which can handle the ill-conditioning of the covariance matrix, is proposed and applied to a hydrocarbon multiphase flow problem in which the parameters of interest are the separate amounts of the oil, gas, water and salt phases. The results of the proposed method are also compared with the results obtained through the implementation of a well-known regularization method, the truncated singular value decomposition. Final calculations indicate that the proposed approach would be able to treat ill-conditioned cases appropriately.


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