Our groundbreaking neutron generator technology utilizes deuterium-deuterium (DD) and deuterium-tritium (DT) nuclear fusion reactions to generate an extremely high and stable neutron flux. Our neutron generator systems are the strongest fusion-based neutron sources in the world, with a high yield neutron output making them suitable for many applications of both thermal and fast neutrons. This technology forms the backbone of our four-phase mission to achieve and commercialize sustainable, cost-effective fusion based-energy and make the world a safer and healthier place for all.
Here’s how it works:
Aim deuterium ions…
Our beam-target electronic neutron generators primarily use a beam of deuterium ions to drive neutron emission. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen with one extra neutron in its nucleus (a hydrogen atom typically consists of only a proton and an electron).
By stripping away the single electron of a deuterium atom, you end up with a positively-charged ion consisting solely of a neutron and a proton. The positively-charged ions are consolidated into a high current beam and fired at a target at up to 300kV.
…at hydrogen isotopes…
The target of the ion beam inside a neutron generator can be a solid or a gas, and it can contain either more deuterium or another hydrogen isotope called tritium. A tritium atom is made up of one proton, one electron, and two neutrons – one more neutron than a deuterium atom.
Neutron generators with a deuterium target are known as D-D neutron generators (deuterium-deuterium) because the ensuing fusion reaction caused when the ion beam hits the target is between two deuterium atoms.
Neutron generators with a tritium target are likewise called D-T generators (deuterium-tritium).
…and you get neutron emission!
When the ion beam hits the target, deuterium ions fuse via a nuclear reaction with atoms of deuterium or tritium within the target to create heavier isotopes of hydrogen and produce neutrons. These high energy neutrons are emitted from the electronic neutron generator to be used for a wide range of applications.
One key benefit a neutron generator offers over nuclear reactors is that by relying on fusion reactions with light elements such as hydrogen isotopes, they produce very little nuclear waste during neutron production. Unlike reactors, which are very tightly regulated to prevent radioactive isotopes from harming people or the surrounding environment, neutron generators are much cleaner and much easier to safely maintain.
D-D and D-T neutron generators, unlike reactor sources and neutron emitters, can be turned off quickly and easily when the need arises. On the other hand, nuclear reactor shutdown procedures are complex and slow, and neutron emitters like 252Cf cannot be shut off at all.
Other neutron sources
Most neutron sources rely on nuclear fission, or the splitting of heavy elements such as uranium into lighter elements. When an atom of uranium breaks apart into lighter elements such as krypton and barium, the process leaves a small amount of extra neutrons which are not attached to any nucleus. Spallation sources cause neutron emission by shooting a high-energy particle at an atom to break the neutrons off of the nucleus. Neutron emitting elements such as californium-252 are constantly undergoing radioactive decay and produce free neutrons as the material breaks down.
Neutron generator applications
Our fusion systems provide a critical source of neutron radiation for ensuring the safety of critical products in the aerospace industry and for producing the diagnostic and therapeutic radioisotopes that enable potentially lifesaving treatment. Our neutron sources have applications in neutron activation analysis, materials analysis, advanced industrial inspection, and more. As we continue to work on improving and refining our fusion systems, we believe that our technology for producing neutrons could also be utilized in many other practical applications in the future that will improve human life, including the potential development and commercialization of safe, clean, cost-effective fusion energy.
Neutron generators for sale
SHINE designs and manufactures intermediate- and high-yield neutron generators. Our neutron generators are compact, with small footprints and high neutron yields ideal for industrial materials testing methods such as neutron radiography, materials analysis, and radiation survivability testing. Our neutron generators can be installed onsite, providing unlimited access to neutron radiation and reducing the need for third-party neutron sources such as reactors.