Nuclear energy in industry
The use of nuclear power in modern industry in developed countries is very important for improving processes for measurement and automation, and quality control.
The use of radiation is applied in a wide range of activities, either in quality control of industrial processes, raw materials (cement, power plants, oil refineries, etc..) Or quality control of products manufactured in series, as a prerequisite for the full automation of the production lines at high speed.
Irradiation with intense sources is considered as an operation to improve the quality of certain products (special plastics, sterilization products "disposable", etc..).
In addition, tracer experiments are performed to obtain an accurate and detailed status of industrial equipment to qualify for the prolongation of life.
Industrial sources usually produce no radioactive waste in the country that uses them, because once useless, the country's commercial signature provider to be removed when the replacement.
Use of radioisotopes as tracers
The fact that small amounts of radioactive substances can be measured quickly and with accuracy, makes radioisotopes used to further process or analyze the characteristics of said processes. These substances are known as tracers.
The tracers are used for the investigation of processes and can control the parameters of ventilation systems (flow, ventilation efficiency), for mixing, checking the degree of homogeneity, mixing time and mixer performance, maintenance processes for studying the transport of materials through pipes (leaks or escapes and flows), and systems for detection of wear and corrosion, determining the degree of wear of materials ( motors) and corrosion of processing equipment.
Quality Control scintigraphy
Gamma radiography constitutes a quality control technique for verifying essential welds in pipes and to detect cracks in aircraft components.
It is the most important application of iridium-192 sources, which alone come to cover 95% of non-destructive testing performed in the quality control of castings, welds metal building, etc. The rest of these controls is performed with cobalt-60 sources (for large thicknesses, up to tens of centimeters of steel) or thulium-170 (for small thicknesses of the order of millimeters).
Use of radiation in other industrial processes
Gamma radiation ionizes the material and creates free radicals, which are the intermediate species in many chemical reactions. Applied radiation (cobalt source-60) with the monomers used to manufacture the plastic is induced formation of large polymer chains, and if the irradiation is continued material, special plastics are high degree of crosslinking catenary, which considerably improves their properties such as thermal and electrical insulation. Thus, some polymer degradation induced by radiation, is a useful property for some types of packaging.
Production of wire and cables insulated with polyvinyl chloride gradient with gamma radiation, results in an increased resistance to thermal and chemical aggressions.
Another important product is linked polyethylene foam with radiation, used in thermal insulation, padding against impact, flotacióny vests and plastic wood composites solidified with gamma radiation.