Phoenix to build second neutron imaging facility in California


Neutron radiography company Phoenix is to construct a second neutron imaging center in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California

The new centre will address a regional demand for commercially-available neutron radiography services, said Phoenix and follows the success of the company’s first Phoenix Neutron Imaging Center (PNIC) in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, which opened in 2019.

PNIC is one of the only sites in the world to offer production-scale, high-quality neutron radiography (N-ray), a high power non destructive testing (NDT) method for quality assurance, R&D, and failure analysis.

Phoenix uses proprietary accelerator-based neutron generator technology as the source of neutrons for the N-ray processes.

Similarly to x-ray imaging, neutron imaging (N-ray) can provide information and insight into an object’s internal structure that other NDT techniques cannot. It is used to inspect products such as the aircraft engine turbine blades, energetic devices such as aircraft ejection mechanisms, spacecraft payload fairing separation mechanisms, and munitions.

The new neutron imaging facility will provide a variety of key aerospace and defense nondestructive testing (NDT) services including thermal neutron radiography (film and digital), fast neutron radiography, thermal and fast neutron computed tomography (CT), X-ray imaging, X-ray CT, radiation effects testing, and neutron activation analysis.

The facility will provide inspection capabilities to energetic device manufacturers such as Pacific Scientific Energetic Materials Company (PacSci EMC). Energetic devices enable mechanisms such as payload separation, and explosive signal transfer systems in aerospace applications, so the ability to reliably and nondestructively inspect them using neutron imaging is crucial.

Phoenix president Dr. Evan Sengbusch said, “Placing a new Phoenix neutron imaging center on the West Coast will allow Phoenix to better provide new and existing clients in critical industries access to this important technology that helps ensure their products are free from potentially catastrophic defects, significantly improving the security of a critical defense supply chain.’

Greg Scaven, PacSci EMC president  said, “We are committed to the highest levels of safety and quality in all our products. We use non destructive inspection techniques such as neutron imaging to ensure our products perform exactly as designed.

“We’re pleased that Phoenix has chosen the Bay Area as a location for its next neutron imaging facility, as it fills a critical gap in the defense and aerospace nondestructive testing industrial base.”

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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