Radiation exposure, even in small concentrations, has the potential to damage the DNA in our cells. Both gamma rays and x-rays are capable of passing completely through the human body and causing Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) or Cutaneous Radiation Injuries (CRI). Long-term exposure to high doses of radiation could also lead to cancer. Radiation can pose a significant hazard in nuclear power plants, radionuclide initiatives, collider operations, and commercial or clinical x-ray installations.
Traditionally, barriers of lead, concrete, and water have been used to offer protection from penetrating radiation rays. However, aluminum radiation shielding is a preferred alternative nowadays, particularly for medical and aerospace sectors owing to the distinctive properties of the metal that can protect against high energy radiation while keeping weight down.
Benefits of Using Aluminum Radiation Shielding Over Lead or Steel
When gamma radiation passes through matter, its intensity is reduced due to photoelectric effects, photonuclear reactions, pair production, Compton scattering, and other interactions. Using matter to reduce the intensity of gamma radiation is called radiation shielding. The effectiveness of the shield depends on the types and thickness of the shielding material and the energy of the radiation. The higher the density of the shielding material, the more it is effective in reducing the intensity of gamma radiation.
Lead as Radiation Shielding Material
Traditional lead shielding is useful against x-ray and gamma-ray radiation owing to the high density of the metal. In fact, lead is considered the best radiation-shielding material. Though lead in its pure form is brittle, it is mixed with binders and additives to design flexible lead vinyl sheets that are incorporated into radiation-shielding garments. Metallic lead as radiation shielding is used in nuclear medicine and radiology, research and development, and various manufacturing applications. It takes approximately four inches of lead radiation shielding to meet the recommended standard for nuclear radiation protection.
However, the presence of airborne lead dust during large shielding emplacement projects poses a potential health hazard. Also, the weight of lead radiation protection apparel is significant, causing back and shoulder injuries to users wearing them for four to five hours at a time.
Steel as Radiation Shielding Material
Steel is a common alloy for shielding radiation in nuclear applications. Austenitic stainless steel is used as a shielding material in magnetic fusion nuclear reactors. The presence of chromium, nickel, and manganese in the alloy offers oxidation resistance and prevents high-temperature corrosion. It only takes about 10 inches of steel to prevent gamma rays from coming through. However, the weight of steel is a major drawback when used for radiation shielding in aerospace applications.
Aluminium as Radiation Shielding Material
Aluminum is 100 times more resistant to radiation damage than common spacecraft materials used. It is lightweight with a high strength-to-weight ratio, making it a common material in space hardware, both as a radiation shield and structural enclosure. Current spacecraft have multiple bumper shields of thin aluminum shields and air gaps in between to slow down radiation particles. Aluminum also constitutes one of the many layers of outer spacesuits to protect astronauts from radiation in space. Aluminum radiation shielding is also used in manufacturing nuclear protection suits.
In the medical sector, personalized 3D-printed aluminum radiation shields are being increasingly explored to minimize normal tissue toxicity while delivering a large radiation dose to cancer cells during radiation therapy.
A manufacturer designing aluminum radiation shields requires high-grade certified new aluminum or verified remnants sourced from a trusted metal supplier.
Designing Aluminum Radiation Shields with High-Grade Aluminum Alloys
At Industrial Metal Service, we have more than 1 million pounds of aluminum—new and remnant, in different shapes and sizes. We source certified aluminum from major mills and also offer verified remnants at unbeatable prices. The composition of all remnant aluminum in our inventory is verified using x-ray fluorescent scanners. We also provide cut-to-order precision sawing services to help you design aluminum radiation shields with the exact specifications you need. Whether you want to design a prototype, need a one-time order for a special project, or would like to schedule regular deliveries of aluminum stock, we can meet your needs.