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Neutron sources are a mainstay in the geophysical toolbox; neutron-based tools are used to determine several formation parameters, particularly porosity. For the last 70 years, the industry has relied on the alpha reaction to produce neutrons downhole, requiring the use of highly radioactive elements with potential radiation hazards for operators. Project cost can rise tremendously if a radionuclide source is lost downhole, requiring a well to be plugged and abandoned. For example, 426 sources were reported as lost downhole in Texas alone between 1956 and 2001, according to a 2010 report from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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