Our neutron glass facility to manufacture the glass fibers was completed in March 2003 although we have been operating the laboratory and bulk melt facility since last year. The facility is capable of producing several million meters of neutron-sensitive fiber per year. We now manufacture the detectors, electronics, systems and software in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The fiber facility includes a wet chemistry laboratory for purification of the various chemicals used to make the glass fibers. Ion-exchange methods are employed to remove elements deleterious to the fiber manufacturing. The waste stream from the laboratory is negligible and we endeavor to maintain methods to minimize environmental impact of any kind.
Once the chemicals are purified, we perform a bulk melt of the powdered charge to make the glass cullet. The melting is done in a controlled atmosphere to maintain the physical conditions required to make high optical quality glass. Once the glass is melted and is maintained to reach chemical equilibrium and homogeneity, the glass is poured and quenched.
Under UV light, the glass fluoresces with its characteristic blue light. Measurement of this fluorescence is part of our QC process. The same fluorescence occurs when radiation in the form of neutrons or gamma-rays hits the detector.
The final step is the actual fiberization. This part of the process also requires a controlled atmosphere melt and careful control of the gas pressures and drum speed to assure a consistent fiber diameter. Once the fiber is pulled onto the drum it is painted with RTV and cut into ribbons that are used to fabricate the neutron detectors.
Please contact us for any special product development utilizing this technology for any nuclear application including airborne monitoring, roadbed monitors, wearable monitors (non-medical), all safeguards applications, SNM inventory monitoring, container and waste drum monitors, Customs applications and in-situ monitoring for fissile materials.
Optical fibers for sensor applications are fabricated and characterized at the same facility. Specialty glass optical fiber wave guides can be produced directly from the melt using our draw tower.