Opening in 2019, our state of the art neutron imaging center will be the first facility of its kind to offer commercial neutron imaging services by utilizing Phoenix high-intensity neutron technology.

Reviewing film N-ray images on a lightbox

WHAT IS NEUTRON RADIOGRAPHY?

Neutron imaging is a non-destructive testing method that provides detailed information on the internal structure of objects, including those with high density exteriors, and reveals features that other methods (such as X-ray) cannot. Phoenix’s system will reliably produce the image quality and throughput required to meet the most stringent industrial requirements.

HOW IS NEUTRON IMAGING DIFFERENT FROM X-RAY IMAGING?

Neutrons and X-rays interact differently with different materials, making them both powerful complementary tools for nondestructive materials testing. Learn more about what sets neutrons apart:

APPLICATIONS

Neutron Radiography effectively visualizes:

  • Internal flaws in cast parts
  • Loading uniformity in munitions
  • Defects in low density and energetic materials
  • Internal structure in additively manufactured components
  • Many more…

NEUTRON SERVICES AND CAPABILITIES

Located in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, the 10,000 square foot neutron imaging and testing center will provide neutron activation analysis, radiation effects testing and X-ray imaging in addition to neutron imaging.

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Neutron Imaging Services and Capabilities

The Phoenix Neutron Imaging Center will provide a range of cutting edge, neutron based non-destructive testing services and meet all the certifications and qualifications necessary to meet all customer and industry requirements.  In addition to industrial and aerospace components, our center will be ATF/DoD compliant to accept energetic devices.

STANDARDS AND QUALIFICATIONS

  • Film neutron radiography will be compatible with ASTM E545-14 and ASTM E748-16
  • Phoenix is actively working with ASTM to help develop a standard for digital neutron radiography
  • Facility will be ISO9001, AS9100 and NADCAP certified
  • Facility will be ASNT certification program compliant with SNT-TC-1A and NAS-410

THERMAL NEUTRON IMAGING CAPABILITIES

  • Ten 14×17″ imaging ports
  • ASTM Category 1 quality level
  • Imaging of parts up to 14″x17″x6″

FAST NEUTRON IMAGING CAPABILITIES

  • Imaging of parts up to 14″x17″x12″
  • Potential for longer parts with image indexing

TRAINING AND NEUTRON RESEARCH

  • Training programs for certification of Phoenix neutron generator system operators and neutron radiography NDT methods will be available
  • Neutron activation analysis
  • Neutron gauging
  • Epoxy cements and potting material inspections
  • Geochronology

Neutron Imaging Applications

INTERNAL  FLAWS AND  RESIDUE IN PRECISION CAST PARTS

Commercially, some of the largest users of neutron imaging facilities are manufacturers of aerospace components, namely fabricators of turbine blades.  The turbine blades that are inspected are those that are formed around ceramic cores, which are later etched to remove the ceramic, leaving empty channels for active cooling.  These parts are those in the hot section of jet engines, both military and commercial, and must survive in environments often above their melting temperature.  Any blockage of the airways caused by residual ceramic can result in localized hot-spots and jeopardize the integrity of the critical part.  Locating ceramic blockages is difficult with X-ray due to high density metal outer shell and low density of the ceramic residue.  Neutron imaging provides a clear image of the internal structures and any residual material left behind from the manufacturing process, ensuring that safe and effective parts go into every airplane engine.

DEFECTS IN LOW DENSITY AND ENERGETIC MATERIALS

Fighter jet ejection in progress

Thousands of energetic devices are manufactured every year and are used for highly-critical applications including:

  • Separation of the canopy from an aircraft in the event of a falling military plane and the subsequent expulsion of the pilot from the vehicle
  • Separation of rocket motor stages during space vehicle launch
  • Frangible joint separation to deploy payloads into space such as satellites.

Many of these energetic devices are also directionally formed.  For this reason, small separations, gaps, bubbles, voids, cracks, and fill levels are viewed using neutron imaging to ensure proper construction of such devices.  This is again an example where low-density, hydrogenous material is encapsulated inside high density shells where neutron imaging outperforms X-ray inspection.

LOADING UNIFORMITY IN MUNITIONS

The thick outer-shell of large munitions make them difficult to x-ray to test for defects.  Phoenix has worked with the US Army since 2012 to develop a neutron imaging system to detect bubbles, cracks and fill uniformity in munitions.  This crucial quality control step ensures that our soldiers are working with safe, effective munitions.

In addition to imaging, Phoenix is working with the US Army to develop a neutron based IED detection system. 

OTHER APPLICATIONS

  • Bonding flaws in adhesives
  • Composite material inspection
  • Weld inspection
  • Presence/position of liquid inside dense metal or enclosure
  • Internal structure in additive manufactured components
  • Evidence of corrosion inside metal pipelines