Our Materials Testing Capabilities
SHINE Technologies develops and builds the strongest compact neutron generators in the world. Our groundbreaking accelerator technology provides a compact, convenient neutron radiation source that enables many powerful materials testing techniques to uncover the composition, characterization & capabilities of materials.
When it comes to neutron yield, our high flux neutron generator systems outmatch all other systems of similar or lesser size and form factor and provide lower costs-per-neutron with simpler regulatory burdens compared to a nuclear reactor facility. We have built neutron generator systems that provide effective means to perform materials testing operations such as:
- Radiation hardening
- Radiation effects testing
- Neutron activation analysis
- Validation of uranium enrichment levels in nuclear fuel
What is materials testing?
Materials testing is a critical method for engineers and manufacturers for product design, reverse engineering, quality assurance, and failure analysis. Understanding how certain materials behave and interact in a wide range of circumstances is the key to developing stronger and better materials and utilizing them properly.
Some methods of materials testing involve dismantling or otherwise damaging the material in question. These methods are not always the most suitable ones to use, especially when conducting important analyses on low-volume, high-cost products. For this reason, nondestructive testing, or NDT, is one of the most critical forms of materials testing in many industries. NDT involves using any number of a wide variety of analytical techniques to evaluate the properties of a material or component without damaging it or dismantling it in a way such that it cannot be put back together.
Applications of Materials Testing
Our neutron generators have many applications in the field of materials testing, including:
- Composite materials and polymers development
- Lab testing for prototypes
- Materials failure analysis and QA
- Weld integrity tests
- Concrete inspection
- Radiation hardening and survivability testing
- Nuclear fuel testing and inspection
In an object with two or more parts welded together, the connecting points undergo a lot of stress and fatigue. If the welds holding the object together are not sound, the object could break apart under the strain. Materials inspection, both by destructive and nondestructive methods, is crucial to ascertain that the welds in an object are strong enough to stand up to the demands of use. The unique properties of neutron radiation and the high boron content in welding flux make neutron-based materials testing methods particularly useful.
There are a wide variety of materials testing methods, nondestructive and otherwise, that are applied to concrete testing and inspection. The strength and integrity of concrete can be difficult to test through common means of materials testing due to its heterogeneous makeup.
Neutron activation analysis can effectively measure density and detect some structural flaws in concrete. Neutron radiation’s unique properties over X-ray and gamma rays make it a useful tool for concrete inspection.
Radiation Hardening and Survivability Testing
In the aerospace industry, many components, especially electronics, must be specially designed to experience high-radiation environments such as space. Neutrons are especially useful for this area of materials testing. Bombarding components with neutrons simulates these environmental conditions and allows manufacturers to gauge how well their products meet their requirements when used in spacecraft and satellites.
Nuclear Fuel Inspection
Uranium fuel rods used in nuclear reactors must conform to strict quality standards before being put to use. A fuel rod contains pellets of fissile uranium. The distribution of uranium within the rod must be uniform, otherwise the rod could behave erratically within the reactor. Of course, not everything that comes off an assembly line comes out perfect, so thorough testing for any broken or misshapen pellets is vital.
Neutrons play an important role in inspecting nuclear fuel rods due to the way uranium reacts to neutron radiation. By measuring the excitability of the pellets of uranium within the rods, a neutron-based nuclear fuel inspection system can detect gaps and other issues that would render the rods unsuitable for use.