Tag Archives: nuclear technology

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99 uses for nuclear technology

  1. Producing clean energy
  2. Medical diagnostic procedures
  3. Radiation therapy
  4. Sterilizing medical equipment
  5. Killing bacteria, insects and parasites that cause food-borne diseases
  6. Delaying fruits and vegetables from ripening
  7. Inhibiting root vegetables from sprouting
  8. Halting meat and seafood from spoiling
  9. Producing new crop varieties
  10. Producing hardier crops
  11. The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT)
  12. Preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola, malaria and Zika
  13. Decontaminating spices
  14. Improving livestock health
  15. Improving water and fertilizer management
  16. Determining nutrient absorption rates
  17. Verifying the integrity of aircraft components
  18. Improving the reliability of automotive engines
  19. Increasing the compatibility of pacemakers with the human body
  20. Developing better delivery systems for pharmaceuticals
  21. Checking welds of gas and oil pipelines
  22. Analyzing the walls of dug holes
  23. Identifying mineral deposits
  24. Searching for underground caves or formations
  25. Verifying the integrity of roads and bridges
  26. Optimizing road life, rutting resistance and overall durability
  27. Producing safe drinking water
  28. Powering space missions
  29. Powering navigation beacons and satellites
  30. Powering ships and submarines
  31. Producing hydrogen
  32. Smoke detectors
  33. Sterilizing cosmetics and hair products
  34. Sterilizing contact lens solution
  35. Producing non-stick frying pans
  36. Preventing static build-up in photocopiers
  37. Making watches and clocks that “glow in the dark”
  38. Emergency exit signs
  39. Compact fluorescent light bulbs
  40. Increasing computer disk memory
  41. Golf balls with longer drives
  42. Lantern mantles
  43. Combating malnutrition
  44. Combating childhood obesity
  45. Analyzing metals, alloys and electronic materials
  46. Identifying extremely small and diluted forensic materials
  47. Characterizing archaeological and historical materials
  48. Carbon dating the age of rocks and organic materials
  49. Studying air pollution and aerosols
  50. Determining the origin, age and distribution of groundwater
  51. Assessing the interconnections between groundwater and surface water
  52. Understanding aquifer recharge systems
  53. Evaluating leakages through dams and irrigation channels
  54. Lake and reservoir dynamics
  55. Calculating flow and sedimentation rates
  56. Analyzing river discharges
  57. Measuring soil moisture
  58. Measuring magnitudes and sources of soil erosion
  59. Detecting and analyzing environmental pollutants
  60. Studying the mixing and flow rates of industrial material
  61. Locating leaks
  62. Measuring industrial equipment wear rates
  63. Thickness gauges for sheet material
  64. Density gauges for control of liquids, powders and solids
  65. Gauges to determine flow, level and weight
  66. X-ray fluorescent analyzers
  67. Gas chromatographs
  68. Instrument calibrators
  69. Krypton leak detectors
  70. Well logging
  71. Locating materials embedded inside others
  72. Detecting corrosion and moisture damage
  73. Measuring blood or plasma volume
  74. Quantifying bone mass
  75. Detecting changes in bone metabolism
  76. Assessing the blood flow to the brain
  77. Looking for hydrocephalus
  78. Diagnosing and following the progression of tumors or infections
  79. Evaluating how well food travels from the stomach to the intestines
  80. Finding bleeding sites within the abdomen
  81. Identifying gall bladder obstructions
  82. Evaluating the effectiveness of a perito-venous shunt
  83. Finding benign liver tumors
  84. Diagnosing cirrhosis, hepatitis, tumors and other digestive tract problems
  85. Finding blood clots in the lungs
  86. Detecting Meckel’s Diverticulum
  87. Detecting adrenal tumors or pheochromocytoma
  88. Detecting coronary artery disease
  89. Locating neuroendocrine tumors
  90. Evaluating a possible parathyroid adenoma
  91. Diagnosing stomach ulcers
  92. Studying kidney function
  93. Studying gland function
  94. Showing the direction of lymphatic drainage from cancer sites
  95. Checking for tear duct blockages
  96. Diagnosing conditions affecting the testicles
  97. Studying thyroid function
  98. Detailing the heart’s ability to pump blood
  99. Diagnosing ischemic bowel disease
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Nuclear technology increases rice crop yields

Rice terraces in Indonesia

There has been a wealth of studies examining the impact climate change can play in reducing the yield of rice crops.

Whether it be less rain or a shortened growing season, many are concerned about the future of rice production. And this could have a negative impact on the health and economies of the developing world.

But nuclear technology could offer a solution.

In Indonesia, scientists at the country’s National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) have developed 22 rice varieties using irradiation to generate new and useful traits in crops. The process is known as mutation breeding.

As the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) explains, “Mutation breeding uses a plant’s own genetic make-up, mimicking the natural process of spontaneous mutation. The mutation process generates random genetic variations, resulting in plants with new and useful traits.”

Ripe rice crops

In Indonesia, scientists use gamma irradiation to induce mutations in seeds and to speed up the natural mutation process. The new plants are then tested and those displaying useful traits are selected for further breeding and subsequent distribution to farmers.

After two years, the new rice has been a success. Two hundred farmers in the region of East Java have used the rice variety called Inpari Sidenuk, which is Indonesian for “Nuclear Dedication.” According to the IAEA, the farmers have doubled their yields to nine tons per hectare.

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A Nuclear Ride

An atom and a 3D printer may drive the next generation of vehicles. That’s the idea behind Russian automobile designer Grigory Gorin and his concept for a nuclear fusion powered car.

The AUDI Mesarthim F-Tron Quattro concept car was inspired in part by Michel Laberge.  Dr. Laberge founded General Fusion in 2002 with a goal of creating a future powered by energy from nuclear fusion.

This past spring, the work of General Fusion was acknowledged by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) with a grant of just over 12 million dollars to further the research into fusion power.

“I think it’s a really terrific idea. I love it,” exclaims Gorin. “I’m very inspired when I see people that are involved in finding solutions to issues related to clean and secure energy.”

Gorin’s fascination with cars dates back to his childhood. The AUDI Mesarthim, named after one of the Aries star constellations, would transform automobile production, producing minimal environmental impact while providing virtually unlimited power.

The stars in our solar system are energized by nuclear fusion. In the center of the star, the fusion process takes place. When two atoms come together to form a heavier atom they release a tremendous amount of energy.

The concept of the car is quite simple. As the electric car speeds up and generates energy, the reactor would be activated. Four Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), systems which recover excess energy and store it in a battery, which would serve as back-up support. A small amount of hydrogen would fuel the reactor almost indefinitely.

Gorin was inspired by the changing state of ecology in his region of Russia.

“I’ve observed completely abnormal temperatures. (As an example), 2010 was so hot that forests began to burn,” states Gorin. “Winters have (also become) very warm, this year there was no snow in December and February and it was raining,” he says.

Concern for Russia’s environment has reached the Kremlin. President Putin, looking to raise public attention to environmental problems has made 2017 the Year of Ecology in Russia.

While Gorin’s invention is still years away from becoming a reality, he believes that the cars of the future will be able to carry an on-board device to produce energy such as a fusion reactor.

“The reactor can be installed on any chassis with any body so it can provide energy where needed,” he states. “It could also probably be used in conjunction with non-motile (stationary) reactors,” according to Gorin.

His proposed car would rarely, if ever, need refueling and wouldn’t produce harmful emissions like current fossil fuel powered vehicles.

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Nuclear Technology Brings Hope to Patients

MEDICALISOTOPESSaskatchewan cancer patients have been given a new reason to be hopeful thanks to nuclear technology.

The Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon is now receiving on-site medical isotopes thanks to the Fedoruk Centre, a cyclotron and a funding partnership between the province and the feds.

A cyclotron is a particle accelerator and it uses power to make particles radioactive. When these particles collide isotopes are created.

Medical isotopes are safe radioactive particles used to diagnose health conditions.

In total, the nuclear medicine community relies on a wide suite of medical isotopes. There are approximately 200 isotopes available for use. Each isotope has its own characteristics and the ability to provide doctors with a window into what is happening inside the body.

The isotope used to help detect medical issues such as cancer and Parkinson’s through a positron emission tomography (PET)/computerized tomography (CT) scan (PET-CT).

An isotope known as fluorine-18 is attached to a tracer to make a radiopharmaceutical. It is then injected into the patient where it moves throughout the body depending on the tracer.  In Canada, PET/CT scans use the radiopharmaceutical flurodeoxyglucose (FDG).  Approximately 60 minutes after injection, the scanning part of the procedure begins.

“FDG is a sugar and the sugar is burned up by different parts of the body at different rates,” according to Dr. Neil Alexander, executive director of the Fedoruk Centre. “In nuclear medicine, particularly in diagnostics, if you have a sugar it goes around the body and anything burning up the sugar at a great rate lights up on the scan.  As one example, cancer cells burn up sugar at a greater rate than healthy cells, allowing physicians to detect cancers and see how the disease responds to treatment.”

PET/CT scans provide doctors with vital information on the location and extent of cancer within the body. The test also allows doctors to assess the success of treatments; providing patients with a better chance at survival.

Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and research is one of the newest areas for medical isotopes and PET/CT. Early diagnosis in the case of Parkinson’s is an important step to increasing knowledge on how the disease progresses and responds to therapy.  In the case of Parkinson’s patients the scan is looking for a decrease in proteins used in the synapses, or the junctions between nerve cells, in the brain.

Until the cyclotron started producing isotopes, patients requiring a scan in Saskatchewan needed isotopes flown in from Ontario and because the radioactivity is short-lived, meaning FDG cannot be stored, daily shipments were required. The challenges of early morning production added to air transportation often led to delayed starts and cancellations, providing unreliability for patients in need of medical diagnoses.

“Up until now, all of it was coming in from Hamilton and a lot of the material had decayed so they couldn’t process as many patients,” says Alexander.

Producing locally means more reliable health care for patients, cutting wait times and diagnosing more patients sooner. It also means that Saskatchewan medical researchers have a supply readily available to expand their research programs.

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Nuclear Fun Fact: Pest Control

Pest control

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Neutron Beams & Airplane Safety

According to Statistics Canada, there were 5.4 million take-offs and landings at Canada’s ninety-two airports in 2014.airplaneimage

Everything is made of materials, even people. And those materials can be examined through non-destructive testing (NDT). It is exactly what it sounds like, a method to test materials without breaking or destroying them.

“In the past, they’d make the part bigger. That works and it works if it’s on the ground, but with an airplane, when you have to move through the air you are sensitive to weight,” according to Michael Gharghouri, a research scientist at CNL with a PhD in materials engineering. “So you really want to design just what you need. You can only do it if you understand the material very well.”

When it comes to flying, NDT is an effective method that can pick up potential problems long before a plane takes off.

That’s where Nray Services comes in. This small company has a big job. For the last twenty years, its shop in Dundas, Ontario has been testing engine turbine blades for 95% of the entire aerospace industry using a neutron beam.

There are four phases to jet propulsion according to Rankin MacGillivray, President of Nray: Suck, squeeze, bang and blow.

Intake is the suck that draws air into the jet engine.

Then the air is squeezed by compression within the aircraft’s engine.

The bang occurs when the fuel and the spark are added.

The blow pushes air out of the engine at the rear, and pushes the aircraft forward.

It is these small rings of blades, approximately four or five inches high, inside the engine that Nray tests.

“The blades are operating at temperatures higher than their melting points,” according to MacGillivray.

To compensate for the high temperatures, the blades have hollow passages that allow cool air to circulate inside them. Within this ceramic core, any blockage greater than a ¼ millimeter could prevent cooling and cause the blade to break up in flight. So accuracy matters very much.

“Ceramic is a light material compared to the blade material. It’s fairly heavy and if you look at an x-ray for example it can penetrate but it can’t see behind it”, says MacGillivray. “Neutron rays can see light materials behind heavy materials.”

Neutron beams don’t just provide highly accurate measurements. They also provide an early warning system.

“Very early on when they are designing so they can get information up front to do an informed design.” Gharghouri goes onto say,”Then at the other end when problems crop up that are unexpected so that they can tell them the problem and where it is without actually destroying the part.”