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Industrial Applications

Urenco Stable Isotopes is continuously developing products for industrial use within the nuclear, non-destructive testing and semiconductor industry.

Nuclear industry

Our main industrial isotope is depleted zinc64 which is used widely in the nuclear industry. The addition of zinc to nuclear reactors greatly reduces corrosion processes, including stress corrosion cracking.

Zinc also reduces the amount of radioactive cobalt60 formed as a result of the activation of natural cobalt in the construction materials of the reactor. Cobalt60 is a major contributor to radiation build up in cooling systems and can cause elevated dose rates of maintenance personnel. If natural zinc is injected, zinc64 forms the radioactive zinc65 which negates the beneficial reduction of cobalt60. If the zinc64 isotope is removed prior to injection in the cooling system, full advantage can be taken from the cobalt60 level reduction and the average dose rates are substantially reduced.

We often provide large quantities of depleted zinc64 in the form of depleted zinc oxide pellets or powder for boiling water reactors and depleted zinc acetate for pressurised water reactors.

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Non-destructive testing

Non-destructive testing is often performed with gamma cameras. Several gamma sources are in use with iridium192 sources being the most common ones. Selenium75 sources have a slightly softer gamma spectrum and these are typically used for thin walled products.

Iridium192 is mostly produced from natural iridium but for high specific activity, enriched iridium91 is used as a precursor. The radioisotope selenium75 is produced from enriched selenium74. Iridium191 and selenium74 are both produced by us.

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Semiconductor production

Within the semiconductor industry, a key priority is research and development. Urenco Stable Isotopes is able to and constantly looking for opportunities to contribute to these developments.

Germanium tetrafluoride is used in the semiconductor industry for the pre-amorphisation implant process. The use of germanium tetrafluoride, enriched in the isotope germanium72, improves this process and increases the beam current. We supply germanium tetrafluoride enriched in germanium72, tailored to the customer’s specific requirements.

Silicon is also widely used in the semiconductor industry. Silicon28 is currently used in various research and development projects, including the race to build quantum computers, machines that should offer immense processing power by exploiting the oddities of quantum mechanics.

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