Top 4 Applications of Radiation

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Applications of Radiation

Today the uses of Radiation apply to academics, medicine, and industry, as well as for generating electricity. So, Let’s discuss how it applies and how to gain the best use out of Radiation. Applications of Radiation can discuss under the main four sectors. They are

  • Medical Sector
  • Food Irradiation
  • Industrial Uses
  • Nuclear Power Plants

So, from this article, we are going to describe each of the above sectors one by one.

Medical Sector

Firstly, there are lots of applications of Radiation in the medical sector.  The use of Radiation in the medical industry is increasing day by day. The most common application is an X-ray to check the interior parts of the body. By using an X-ray, we can check the broken bones. The other types of electromagnetic waves which widely used in the medical sector are radio waves, UV radiation, visible light, alpha, beta, and gamma rays. Those radiation types use in specialized medical situations like mammography, CT scanning, cardiology, which apply to detect heart issues.

Applications of Radiation
Medical applications in Radiation

Those various types of radiation types which use in the medical sector contain fast neutrons, alpha and beta particles, electrons, protons, and pi-mesons.

Applications of Radiation in Medical sector

So, let’s have a look at what are the uses of Radiation in the medical sector rather than using X-ray to check broken bones. Nowadays, “therapy” is a common medical term as a treatment of cancer and other diseases. Nuclear medicine therapy is one of them.

In medical nuclear therapy, it widely uses nuclear medicine, which has radioactive ability; for example, in medical nuclear treatment, radioactive iodine used to treat thyroid cancer and other thyroid problems. Also, Radiation oncology, which is the study and treatment of cancer, based on Radiation. Because of that, we can see how the use of Radiation in oncology helps to treat cancer. The medical sector is the most important field that widely uses different applications of Radiation.

Finally, for better understanding, Check out this video.

Food Irradiation

Radiation commonly uses for food irradiation. According to the centers of disease control and prevention reports, around 75 million deaths across the world occur because of the bacteria and other pests which live inside the food. So, Food irradiation is the best way to destroy foodborne parasites and bacteria. As a result of that, the lifetime of the food product will increase.

I know what you think right now,

Can proper handling and cooking habits prevent those illnesses?

Yes, of course. We can destroy most of the bacteria which live inside the food, but not all. While following proper handling and cooking habits, we need to follow food irradiation as an extra safety.

Furthermore, In the food irradiation method, the food products will expose to a very high amount of Radiation to kill all the bacteria and pests. It mainly damages the DNS or RNA structure of bacteria. We use radiation-emitting devices like large x-ray machines for this process.

Applications of Radiation
Radiation in Food irradiation

Applications of Radiation in Food irradiation

When we look at the processing steps of packaged food products, we can identify that irradiation of food is the final step before sending them to the market or customer’s hand. According to the regulations of the Agriculture department of the united states, food products must need to process and package under sanitary conditions. We can skip many additional steps by irradiating meat and poultry in retail packaging. They made for store shelves which are irradiated and then send to the shops. By using this proper method, the number of bacteria inside the food product can reduce up to 10 million times. But still will not be zero.

What happens if someone handles food products poorly even after the food irradiation process finished? That put our lives in a risk even those foods are irradiated before. So, we can conclude that we cannot guarantee the food 100% safety because they already irradiated. Proper handling and proper storing are also very important.

Is it ok to use an irradiated food product after it is already spoiled? Absolutely not. Food irradiation does not make spoiled food better. Spoiled food already spoiled and not suitable for health under any circumstances.  Food irradiation does not make the food radioactive or does not add any harmful chemicals to the food, and it does not reduce the nutrient level as well. This method is very similar to freezing, cooking, canning, etc.

Additionally, The military sector is using food irradiation over the past 60 years—also, this method used in bone marrow transplanting operations and space programs as well. As a result of using this method for over 60 years, the illnesses occurred because of food as reduced eventually.

Approved irradiated food

  • Spice and Vegetable Seasonings
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Wheat, Wheat Flour
  • White Potatoes
  • Dehydrated Enzymes
  • Pork
  • Papaya Fruit
  • Red Meat Frozen
  • Eggs
  • Poultry

Industrial Applications

Because of having penetration matter ability, there are many applications of Radiation in industrial methods. They are,

  • Ensuring product quality
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Enhancing material quality
  • Radioactive tracers
  • Electrostatic control
  • Oil and gas exploration

Let’s discuss one by one how Radiation used in the above fields.

Ensuring Product Quality

We can discuss how Radiation effects for ensuring the product quality by taking three main examples.

Nucleonic Gauges

These instruments use a radioisotope source to measure products and materials. They are used to keep an optimum coat thickness like metal coating.

Moisture Gauges

These instruments use in glass, mineral processing, food, chemicals, and construction materials like concrete and asphalt.

Radioisotope Gauges

They are used to calculate mass per unit area when manufacturing paper, aluminum foil, and steel plate by using Radiation.

Non Destructive Testing

Non-destructive testing is some kind of testing that does not harm the material in this test radiations like X-ray and gamma rays to produce inside images of the solid products, in a non-destructive manner and inspection. In this test, the properties or the usefulness of the materials, products, structures, or buildings will not be affected. Non-destructive testing radiography use in petroleum, nuclear and chemical fields and also on assembly lines to test consumer products as well.

For example,

  • The quality check receives for the Car wheels before they are leaving the factory.
  • The pipelines check during maintenance and installation to check whether welds remain intact.
  • Gamma-ray tracer is added to find a hole in a closed gas or liquid tube,
  • By adding tracer to the motor surface of a particular component, we can measure the wear properties by detecting the lubricating oil activities.

Enhancing Material Quality

  • In polymer chemistry, high energy radiation use to produce high-performance polymeric materials.
  • Radiation is used to strengthen the crosslinks between wires and cables in the industry to make them more thermal resistant.
  • Radiation is used to harden plastics with high heat, chemical, and mechanical resistance by building up crosslinks between plastic materials.
  • Vulcanization of natural rubber latex can do with Radiation, which imparts elasticity and strength. This procedure is very suitable in making standard and allergy-free surgical gloves, cardiac balloons, catheters, and fully automated tires.

Radioactive tracers

Since radioactive isotopes work, most chemicals, like a chemically inactive element, can be traced to radioactivity.

Electrostatic control

A ribbon-shaped source of alpha emitter 241Am can be placed close to the material at the end of the product line to prevent the build-up of static electricity in the manufacture of paper, plastics, synthetic textiles. The source ionizes the air to remove the electrical charge of the material.

Oil and gas exploration

We can predict the commercial viability of new and already existing wells by logging Nuclear well. This kind of high-level technology uses a gamma-ray source, radiation detector, or neutron, which are transported to the deep to identify the properties of the rock-like lithography and porosity. 

Nuclear Power Plants

Producing electricity by using the energy of nuclear fission is one of the most important uses of Radiation.  Additionally, In this method, the splitting power of the atom is used as nuclear fission to generate electricity. The demand for electricity is increasing day by day with the increase of the population and electrical devices. To full fill this kind of rapidly growing demand, a country needs an abundant, reliable, affordable, and clean source of electricity. Nowadays no one can live without electricity. We need electricity for all the household activities, to run from small to huge companies. Machines and to give light.  As a result of that, electricity has become one of the primary essential needs for human beings like food.

Applications of Radiation

Overall, Electricity can be produced in many ways using different kinds of machines and generators. Those machines are powered by various energy sources like Sun (solar power), wind, water, coal, gas, oil, and nuclear fission. Most of the Arabic countries are using solar energy because of their climate. Most of the countries which have rainforests are using water as their source of energy. Likewise, each country has its way of generating energy according to the country’s needs. In the United States, coal power has become the primary source of energy. The second-largest electricity source place holds nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants give 21% of electricity to the nation’s electricity needs.

The procedure for generating electricity in Nuclear Plants

The steam produce by boiling water is directly supplied to a power generator to produce electricity in a nuclear power plant. Usually, the nuclear plant has some kind of similarities and differences as well when it compares to other power plants. Here except using solar power, water, wind, gas, it uses steam through boiling water, which rotates the propeller-like blades of the turbine, which turn the shaft of a generator. 

To produce the electricity interaction of magnetic fields and coils of wire happens inside the generator.

But, How do we get the energy to boil the water to produce steam?

This is the time that nuclear fission comes on to the stage. The energy to boil the water can be produced by burning oil, gas, or coal in a furnace or by using nuclear fission energy by splitting atoms of uranium inside a nuclear power plant.

How Nuclear Power Plant uses the Radiation

The specialty of nuclear power plants than other power plants, nothing is exploding or burn inside the plant. Radioactive uranium is the fuel that use to generate heat to boil the water. This heat generating reaction called the nuclear fission reaction. Uranium fuel emits radioactive substances inside the nuclear power plant. These radioactive substances trapped in sealed metal fuel rods or uranium fuel pellets. A minimal amount of gases these substances mix with water, which is used to cool the reactor. Moreover, Those radioactive substances are mixing with water, the impurities which already mixed with water will also become radioactive when they pass through the reactor.

After passing through the reactor, the water filters and processed to remove other impurities. Otherwise, those radioactive impurities can emit harmful Radiation to the environment, which can cause big trouble—none of these radioactive gases or other substances released to the environment without proper monitored conditions.

Types of Radiation inside Nuclear Power Plant

There are 4 types of nuclear radiation reactions that happen inside a nuclear plant reactor. They are alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron. On most occasions, for the most part, outside the neutron reactor is not concerned unless there is enough radioactive fission material to allow a chain reaction to occur. (For example in radioactive fuel processing). This is not the case that happened in Fukushima. The other three types of radiations are very dangerous when the release of radioactive material from a reactor. At Fukushima, what happened is, alpha, beta, and gamma radiations released to the outside of the reactor.

Let’s discuss the above three types of Radiation inside the nuclear power plant.

Alpha radiation

Alpha radiation includes proton and a neutron. Because of the high weight, this radiation type does not travel far in the air, and it can stop by using a sheet of paper. This type of radiation cannot penetrate the skin. Because it is an only concern if inhaled or ingested. Plutonium can disperse widely; Most of today’s plutonium found in soils worldwide are the result of prior nuclear weapons testing.

Beta Radiation

Beta Radiation includes high energy electrons. They can penetrate more than alpha radiation. They are less weight than alpha radiation also can stop by using aluminum foil. External beta Radiation can cause radiation burns to the skin, which in turn reduces the amount of sunburn. Beta-radiation can inhale or transfers.

Gamma radiation

Gamma radiation includes high energy protons. Most importantly, They are the most important radiation type because oh, having high health risks. This radiation type can penetrate through human skin and damage Cells and change the structure of DNA and RNA. This type of Radiation can only stop by using lead or concrete beam or by a particular distance from the energy source. This is the most important type of Radiation in nuclear plants.

Applications of Radiation Involved in a Nuclear Reactor

There are different kinds of radioactive isotopes use or produce by nuclear reactors on a nuclear plant. The most important applications of these radiations described below.

  1. Uranium 235 (U-235) Radiation is the most common Radiation that uses in nuclear power plants because it has become the most active component of nuclear reactor fuel.
  2. Plutonium 239 (Pu-239) Radiation is the best component use in nuclear weapons. It is also present as a byproduct of some reprocessed fuels in nuclear reactors. When using Uranium 235 as the primary fuel in nuclear reactors, Plutonium 239 results as a byproduct of the nuclear fission reaction.
  3. Cesium 137 (Cs-137) also results as a byproduct when using Uranium 235 as a fuel in nuclear reactors. It emits beta and gamma radiations, which can cause death and radiation sickness.
  4. Iodine 131 (I-131) is also a byproduct of the fission reaction of Uranium 235. It emits beta and gamma radiation. Iodine 131 is also can cause death.

During normal operational circumstances, the penetration of the Radiation like x-rays and gamma rays, which emitted from radioactive substances in the reactor and buildings and the systems of the plant, cannot expose to someone who is outside of the boundary. The radiation monitoring machines and sensors place on the fence line to detect if any radiation exposure occurs.

Conclusion of Applications of Radiation

Finally, As you can see, the different types of Applications of Radiation and how they affect various fields. So, we have to use Radiation in a controlled manner to brighten up our future. Safety is very important when dealing with Radiation. So, We hope that you get a proper idea of the uses of radiations.

If you like to know more Chemistry Articles like this , Read – Identify the Effects of pH on the Environment

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