Industrial Application of Nuclear Technology

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Industrial Application of Nuclear Technology

Nuclear science and technology improve our lives in many ways and in many different areas.  It makes our food safer; it improves the quality of tools, gauges, and machines; it diagnoses abnormalities of the metabolism and treats cancers; it powers space travel; and it offers one of the cleanest and most environmentally-friendly ways of generating electricity.

Non Destructive Testing

It is essential to test materials, products, structures or buildings without altering their properties or affecting their usefulness. X-rays and gamma rays are used in industrial radiography to make images of the inside of solid products, as a means of nondestructive testing (NDT) and inspection. NDT radiography is used in the petroleum, chemical and nuclear industries, as well as on assembly lines to test consumer goods.

  • Car wheels, receive a quality check of this type before leaving the factory.
  • Pipelines are inspected both during installation and maintenance to ensure that welds remain intact.
  • Adding a gamma tracer to a gas or liquid in a closed system makes it possible to find a hole in a tube.
  • Adding a tracer to the surface of the component of a motor makes it possible to measure wear by measuring the activity of the lubricating oil.

Ensuring Product Quality

  • Nucleonic gauges – instruments that use a radioisotope source to measure materials and products – are used to ensure optimum coating thicknesses, such as metal-coating.
  • Moisture gauges are used in construction materials (asphalt and concrete), glass, mineral processing, chemicals and food.
  • Radioisotope gauges are used to measure mass per unit of area in manufacturing aluminum foil, paper and steel plate.

Enhancing Material Quality

  • Radiation is is used to create high-performance polymeric materials.
  • Radiation can cause cross-linking of some molecules to form giant molecules which have higher heat, chemical and mechanical resistance.  This helps harden plastics.
  • The wire and cable industry also uses cross-linking to strengthen the insulation of wires and cables and make them more heat resistant.
  • Radiation vulcanisation of natural rubber latex (RVNRL) imparts strength and elasticity, making it ideal for the production of surgical gloves (standard and allergy-free), catheters, balloons used in cardiac procedures and even automobile tires.

Electrostatic control

To avoid the build-up of static electricity in production of paper, plastics, synthetic textiles, etc., a ribbon-shaped source of the alpha emitter 241Am can be placed close to the material at the end of the production line. The source ionizes the air to remove electric charges on the material.

Radioactive tracers

Since radioactive isotopes behave, chemically, mostly like the inactive element, the behavior of a certain chemical substance can be followed by tracing the radioactivity.

Oil and Gas Exploration

Nuclear well logging is used to help predict the commercial viability of new or existing wells. The technology involves the use of a neutron or gamma-ray source and a radiation detector which are lowered into boreholes to determine the properties of the surrounding rock such as porosity and lithography.

Source- IAEA

American Nuclear Society

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