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CONVENTIONAL AND HIGH ENERGY INDUSTRIAL RADIOGRAPHY

Dr. GURSHARAN SINGH Associate Director Radiochemistry and Isotope Group Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Mumbai - 400 085 INTRODUCTION Ever since the discovery of Radium by Madam Curie, there have been constant efforts all over the world to utilize the radiations emitted by radioisotopes in various fields. However, a great boost to these applications was triggered when it became possible to produce a variety of radioisotopes artificially in nuclear reactors. The applications of radioisotopes depend upon their half lives, energy and type of radiation emitted by them. The overall purpose of these applications is to develop non-destructive and non -invasive, simple and safe techniques to obtain important and reliable information about various systems under investigation. Radiography testing is an important member of the NDT family. Introduction of this technology on industrial scale in many countries was initiated when engineering industries took up fabrication of nuclear and space components having stringent specifications. Since then, its use has grown very rapidly and is now extensively used as mandatory requirement in the manufacture of pressure vessels, turbines, space vehicles, aircrafts, ships, bridges, offshore rigs and platforms, transport pipe lines, a host of other welded specimen, castings, and assemblies etc. Radiography testing is the process of detecting discontinuities in objects by passing penetrating ionizing radiation through them and recording the transmitted radiation pattern on X-ray films. The radiation sources used for industrial radiography are gamma ray sources, X-ray machines and in a few cases Neutrons. A radiography set-up consists of: Radiation source Test object X-ray film kept between a pair of lead screens and enclosed in a light proof cassette.

Formation of radiographic image is based on the principle of differential absorption of radiation while passing through the specimen. Variations in density, composition, thickness or presence of materials of different absorption characteristics can be easily detected. The image on X-ray film, after processing, is converted into black and white pattern. The type of pattern obtained on film depends on structure of test object. OBJECT IMAGE RELATIONSHIP The image of discontinuities in the object is formed due to differential attenuation of radiation, the intensity of transmitted radiation through the object having a discontinuity of thickness t in a thickness of X is represented by the following equation;

I = Io e

-m (X - t)

RADIATION SOURCE Selection of a radiation source mainly depends upon; Material of specimen Thickness of specimen Required image quality.

Following table gives characteristics of the commonly used gamma ray sources. CHARACTERISTICS OF GAMMA RAY SOURCES Source Half Life Energy (Mev) 0.08 0.4 (average) 0.66 1.17, 1.33 RHM Approx. Useful steel thickness range (mm) 2.5 - 12.5 12 - 65 20 - 90 50 - 150

Tm-170 Ir-192 Cs-137 Co-60

127 d 74 d 30 y 5.26 Y

0.009 0.5 0.32 1.3

Gamma ray sources decay with time, whether in use or not. The present activity (curies) of a source can be obtained from its decay chart. Conventional penetrating radiation based non-destructive testing methods use X and gamma ray sources as radiation sources with industrial X-ray film as detector. By choosing a variety of source - film combinations, varying degrees of flaw detection, in different materials can be achieved. However, the existing techniques, though more convenient from the point of view of portability of the equipment, particularly for gamma ray equipment, have their inherent limitations in flaw detection sensitivity for examination of thicker & thinner sections of materials. Present techniques are suitable for examination of steel equivalent thickness between 15 - 175 mm. Thickness outside this range result in reduced flaw detection sensitivity. While radioisotopes offer important and unique properties for many applications, they have fixed energies and low intensities, especially when required for examination of thick structures of steel and high density materials. Such applications include testing of thick concrete and composite materials made up of concrete, lead and steel. For these applications, high energy X- ray emitting sources like linear accelerators, betatrons etc. are needed. These machines provide high energy X-ray beams with very high radiation intensities, and hence are very useful to inspect high thicknesses (upto 500 mm steel equivalents) in short exposure times. Presently, in India, 9 such accelerators are being used for various applications.

HIGH-ENERGY RADIGRAPHY

Basic Principles Radiography using X-ray energies of 1MeV or greater is commonly considered to be in the high energy range. The basic principles of high-energy radiography are the same as those of conventional low and medium energy X- radiography. Standard types of commercial X-ray film, with lead or other intensifying screens, are used to produce the radiographic image of the object being examined. The arrangement of the source, object and film, the shielding, masking, and other scatter reduction techniques and the use of penetrameters and identification numbers are all similar to methods used in Radiography with other energies. The differences between high and conventional lowenergy radiography arise from several distinctive characteristics of a high-energy X-ray source, some of which prove to be advantageous. Advantages The major advantages of high-energy radiography are: 1. The higher energy photons are more penetrating. Greater penetration means that Radiography of thick sections is practical and economically feasible. 2. Large distance-over-thickness ratios (D/t) can be used with correspondingly low distortion. 3. Short exposure times and high production rates are possible. 4. The wide thickness latitude, good contrast and reduced amounts of high angle scatter reaching the film results in high quality radiographs, with excellent pentrarrneter sensitivity and good detail resolution. 5. Some machines have high output intensity, making possible the use of large focal-film distances, large areas of coverage and greater use of the low speed, fine grained and high contrast films. Latitude A common task in high-energy installations is the radiography of objects with varying shapes and thicknesses. A single film exposure can cover a rang in determining exposure techniques. Typical broad beam half-value layers are shown in table below. Material (Density)
Tungsten(18 g/cm3) HVL (CM) HVL (in) Lead(11.3g/cm3) HVL (cm) HVL (in.) Steel (7.85 g/cm3) HVL (cm3) HVL (in.) Aluminium (2.70 g/cm3) HVL (cm) HVL (in.) Concrete (2.35 g/cm3) HVL (cm) HVL (in.) 1MeV 0.55 0.21 0.75 0.30 1.60 0.63 3.90 1.50 4.50 1.80 2 MeV 0.90 0.36 1.25 0.49 2.00 0.79 5.40 2.10 6.20 2.40

Typical Half- value layer


4 MeV 1.15 0.45 1.60 0.63 2.50 1.00 7.50 2.90 8.60 3.40 6 MeV 1.20 0.48 1.70 0.67 2.80 1.10 8.90 3.50 10.20 4.00 8 MeV 1.20 0.48 1.70 0.67 3.00 1.20 9.60 3.80 11.00 4.30 10 MeV 1.20 0.48 1.70 0.67 3.20 1.25 10.00 3.90 11.50 4.50 16 MeV 1.15 0.45 1.65 0.65 3.30 1.30 11.00 4.30 12.70 5.00

Solid Propellant (1.7 g/cm3) HVL (cm) HVL (in.) Lucite (1.2 g/cm3) HVL (cm) HVL (in.)

6.10 2.40 10.50 4.10

8.40 3.30 12.10 4.80

11.60 4.60 16.80 6.60

13.80 5.40 19.90 7.80

14.90 5.90 21.50 8.50

16.50 6.50 23.80 9.40

20.40 8.00 29.50 11.60

Energy Quality Since the linear attenuation coefficient and the HVL have definite values for each material and for each photon energy, these quantities are also used to express the quality of energy, or energy makeup, of the beam from an X-ray generator. Practical radiography setups use broad beam radiation; that is, scatter is present in the exposure. In that arrangement, the demonstrated or measured HVL thickness at a given generator energy setting may vary with each setup, depending on the amount of scatter that the film or detector receives. The slope of the exposure curve and the contrast and latitude achieved in a step block exposure are indicators of the HVL and the effect of scatter. In high-energy X-radiography, the types and thicknesses of the test materials determine to a large extent the generator energy that should be used. The broad beam HVL is a useful material index for the radiographer to use in the energy selection, since it is related directly to exposure time. Following figures illustrate HVL as a function of incident election energy for steel, rocket propellant, lead and concrete. These values represent equilibrium half-value layers.

HVT vs Energy for various materials

Scatter Radiation Scatter will be present in every high-energy radiographic application. Because this scatter can be as of useful film densities where sensitivity and inter-pretability are accurate and valid; the thickness range that corresponds to the range of useful densities is called the latitude of exposure. Latitude depends on the film gradient, or contrast, and on the attenuation of the material. Naturally, when two films of different speeds are used to image the same object in one exposure, the latitudes of the films are summed, to expand the total latitude for the exposure. when a wedge-shaped object is used to generate the exposure curve, the points on the wedge image, corresponding to the minimum and maximum film densities allowed by the appropriate specifications, will provide data for determining latitude. Following figure shows a plot of latitude in steel for several energies.

Latitude in steel for several energies.

BEAMING AND FIELD FLATNESS Beaming In high-energy X-ray machines, electrons reach speeds approaching that of light. Most of the electrons continue to travel in the forward direction after their initial interactions with the target atoms. The deflection angle of scatter tends to be small, and decreases as the energy of the incident electrons in-creases. Because high-energy interactions during electron penetration produce high-energy X-ray photons, the direction of these emitted photons, like that of the scattered electrons, is also predominantly forward. Thus, the radiation intensity across the X-ray field is not uniform or flat; this effect is termed beaming and it increases with increased energy. Target Thickness When targets are slightly thicker than the electron path length of the most energetic electron, a proportionally larger number of lower energy photons is produced, when compared to the number of photons produced by a thin target. This thicker target lessens the beaming effect, broadens field coverage and increases sensitivity in inspection of thin and low-density materials. Compensators In the very high-energy linacs and betatrons, the intensity of the X-ray beam is so much greater at its centerline than at small angles off-center that a compensator or field flattener may be employed to reduce the centerline intensity and produce a more uniform intensity across the field. These compensators are usually made of aluminum. They are designed to be proportionally thicker in the center of the beam to compensate for the higher beam intensity of the central ray; they are smoothly

tapered and become thinner at the edges of the radiation field. As a consequence of the differential X-ray attenuation produced by the thickness variations, the resulting beam profile is flatter. In some machines, the field flattener is located in the beam in such a way that it attenuates the X-rays after the output has been measured by the ion chamber. In such cases, adjustments must be made to achieve proper radiographic exposure. Field Flattening For the radiographer who requires a uniform field intensity in order to obtain a uniform exposure across the radiograph, beaming can present a problem, and may become a controlling factor in applied radiography. As long as exposure times do not become excessively long, a lower X-ray energy source, with its flatter beam can provide the more uniform field. Increasing the source-to-film distance reduces the effect of the beaming for a fixed film size. Use of a higher energy, a more powerful source with compensator, and a large source-to-film distance, permits the use of larger film areas, makes it possible to reduce overall inspection time, and in-creases production rates. The beaming characteristics of an X-ray machine can be useful in some cases. For example, when large, solid cylinders are radiographed diametrically, it can be advantageous to have a more intense beam in the center than at the outer diameter of the cylinder. Large solid-propellant rocket motor radiography is an example of how the use of optimum energy and field uniformity yields economical inspection. Special field flatteners may be constructed for special applications. When large numbers of items are radiographed with thickness variations greater than the combined latitude capability of the ma-chine and film, a specially shaped compensator can be constructed to flatten the radiographic field. An example of this application is the radiography of large caliber artillery shells. Radiography of Propellants Rocket Motors Solid propellant rocket motors are made with diameters of 5 cm (2 in.) or less to 305cm (120 in.) or more, with a variety of bore configurations, some of which are shown in Figure below. These configurations have a designed burning surface area that produces a predictable pressure/flight curve. If this area is in-creased by the presence of a crack, void or separation, over pressurization of the case can occur, thus causing a malfunction.

Typical Rocket Motor Configurations: (a) Longitudinal Section; (b) Transverse Sections.

Essentially, a solid propellant rocket motor consists of a rigid case, an internally bonded insulator and liner, and the solid propellant. One or more nozzles at the back end complete the basic motor. The case may be made of wound and epoxy-bonded glass or other fiber material, high strength steel, or titanium. The insulator and liner are often made of an asbestos and rubber composition. In general, the propellant in large motors is adhesively bonded to the liner to provide structural sup-port and to restrict the burning to the bore surfaces. There are many types of propellant; the two most common are a rubbery mixture of an organic fuel/ binder and an oxidizer, and a more rigid double-base compound made with plasticized nitroglycerin. By the nature of their design, solid propellant rocket motors provide low subject contrast when radiographed; therefore, every precaution must be taken to increase the radiographic contrast. Radiography of Explosives Explosive projectiles and Warheads Explosives such as projectiles and warheads also require radiographic inspection for manufacturing defects and for defects that occur as a result of storage and handling. Warheads aboard aircraft that are subjected to repeated arrested landings on carriers can sustain substantial forces on crucial suspension and bearing points. Projectiles can become damaged as a result of the extreme handling and storage environments to which they must be subjected in remote sites around the world.

Complexity High-energy radiography is used to examine and recertify most of these explosive items. In doing so, some or all the complexities of the various types of radiography (i.e., casting, welding and assembly test ing) must be addressed. Some of these items are manufactured by pressing granulated powder into the containing vessel. Some, however, are made by casting the explosive compound into the vessel. In this case, voids, cracks shrinkage and piping can be present just as in the case of cast metals. Each item has outer metal parts which can be welded, forged or extruded. Additionally, most of these items have using or other types of detonating devices which, must be examined while assembled in the explosive device. Figure below is a radiograph of a projectile showing some of the conditions found in this type ordnance material.

Radiograph of an Explosive-loaded, fused 5 in. (12.7cm) Projectile

Radiography of Assemblies Assemblies such as jet engines, gas turbines valves, nuclear fuel elements and explosive devices (bombs and fuses) are frequently radiographed with high-energy X-rays to show internal conditions or dimensions. These assemblies may have material thicknesses that vary by several HVLs at adjacent regions when projected on the film. Also, many assemblies can have material and assembly characteristics that produce forward scatter, which obscures the sharpness of the radiographic image. In some instances, such as jet aircraft engines or gas utilized turbines, in-motion radiographic techniques are utilized to determine dynamic dimensions between mating surfaces, gas seals, etc. Thus it is difficult to prescribe radiographic techniques that are universally applicable to all assembly radiography, In each case other types of radiography, some experimental radiographs must be taken before the technique can be finalized. Radiographic Coverage Radiography of the peripheral areas of the dome and cylindrical areas of a solid propellant rocket motor requires an exposure plan similar to that for the grain. In fact, the same

layout and marking may be used for the tangential exposures. The central ray positions depend on the size of the motor and on the particular source to be used. When the X-ray machine has high output intensities and a large radiation cone, the grain exposure with simultaneous bilateral tangential exposures can be made by directing the central ray radially. With a less powerful source or one with a small cone of radiation, only one side of the motor can be exposed at a time. In general there is no need to use the multi-film technique, since one film may have sufficient latitude to show the critical areas inside the case. As with all rocket motor radiography, some experimental exposures may be needed to finalize the optimum technique. RECENT TRENDS With rapid developments in newer materials and requirements for their inspections at high flaw detection sensitivity, traditional methods are being continuously improved to make them more rapid and reliable, with enhanced flaw detection sensitivity. There have been innovations in radiation sources, radiation detection systems, data processing, image enhancement techniques, and interpretation methods. New applications include; Applications of high energy radiation sources like linear accelerators, betatrons etc. for examination of thick welded and cast steel structures, civil engineering concrete structures, rocket propellants, explosives and special materials. Use of microfocus X-ray systems for examination of thin sections for high resolution radiography and for geometric enlargement projection radiography. The newer trends in the use of flash X-ray systems for examination of dynamic systems in petrochemical industries, ballistics, detonation phenomenon, biomedical applications and nuclear technology etc. Use of new sources like Yb-169, Se-75 and Am-241 for testing of thin sections of light metals and composites. Gamma ray scattering NDE techniques for inspection of assemblies with one side access. Applications of Neutron sources for NDT of explosives, turbine blades, electronic devices, assemblies and their use in metallurgy and nuclear industry. Special radiography methods for inspection of radioactive objects and use of robotised X-ray systems. Use of instant cycle radiographic paper in place of X-ray film for recording of radiographic image for few applications.

DIGITAL RADIOGRAPHY Digital radiography is an advanced technique which involves computerized methods of investigation. In digital radiography the image may be directly acquired in digital form or be converted into by means of digitising of an analogue, copied or transmitted to different places without any loss of image information, digitally processed to enhance required features or to eliminate interfering ones. The list of available processing procedures is large and includes: functional transformations of intensity (brightness-contrast adjustments,

histogram transformations), filtering of different kinds (noise reduction, sharpening), background linearization and lamination, and finally image segmentation, object detection and interpretation. There are several techniques of digital image acquisition: Scanning of the traditional radiographic film is an obvious way to achieve digital image using conventional radiography systems. Because of the high maximum optical density (Dmax> 5) of NDT films in comparison to films used in visible light photography and medical radiography, special scanners are designed for this purpose. At present, this approach is unsurpassed in spatial resolution and signal-tonoise ratio, but requires film processing and is therefore time consuming and labour intensive. Phosphor imaging plate technology is a replacement for conventional film which eliminates necessity of dark room processing. They employ a coating of photostimulable storage phosphor on a flexible plate to capture image. When exposed to X-rays, radiation sensitive centre inside the phosphor crystals are excited and electrons are trapped in a semi-stable higher energy state. A reading device scans the plate by means of a laser beam. The laser energy releases the trapped electrons, causing visible light to be emitted. This light is registered by a photomultiplier and converted into a digital bit stream which encodes the digital image. After scanning the imaging plate can be erased with surplus light and refused. The applicable dynamic range of imaging plates is even larger than NDT films, but resolution and signal-to-noise ration are inferior. Fluorescent and scintillation screens coupled with photo diode matrices provide means for instant detection (indirect flat panel detectors). Because of optical scattering within the media, some spatial blurring and increased noise can encountered which degrades image quality as compared to film. However, these systems offer superior performance relatives to conventional radioscopy systems (image intensifiers or fluoroscopes), while exhibiting faster read-out times as compared to digitized film and imaging plates. Most progressive (at present) are direct registration detectors (direct flat panel detectors). The detector consists of an amorphous selenium or cadmium telluride (CdTe) photoconductive layer coating a thin film transistor (TFT) array, X-rays are converted directly into charge carriers. An electrical bias field is applied to separate the charge carriers and to collect them (no photosensitive elements as in the indirect approach). For such systems the resolution is only limited by elements size of the TFT matrix ( approx 100 m).

INDUSTRIAL COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY Although still only at an early stage of development, computed tomography (CT) systems clearly represent a breakthrough in industrial radioisotope and radiation applications since they provide a range of cross-sectional views through materials, components and assemblies which would otherwise be opaque. CT imaging is an established technique in medical diagnostic radiology. Based on the same principle, but significantly different in operating parameters, a prototype Computed Tomography System (CITIS) has been indigenously developed using 7 curies of Cs - 137 source in the BARC. The gamma-ray based prototype unit is capable of scanning specimens of small diameters (upto 100 mm) and of varying densities. It has wider applications in the fields of nuclear, space and allied fields. A modified, X -ray based industrial CT system with PIN photo diode detectors is presently being developed.

Computed Tomography process uses collection of transmission data through an object and subsequent mathematical reconstruction of an image corresponding to the cross section of the object. In NDT, CT technique is used to obtain mapping of linear attenuation coefficients inside an object. The design envisages high speed computers as an essential part of instrumentation for fast data processing and to display CT instrumentation for fast data processing and to display CT images. The system in addition to Computed Tomography can also be used for Digital Radiography to serve as a powerful tool for NDT applications. These systems find extensive applications in ndt of solid propellant rocket motors, nuclear fueled assemblies, composite materials and ceramics. Industrial CT systems demand capability to handle objects of wide range of density and size and to operate in varying environmental conditions. The major limitations of Computed Tomography systems are the relatively high cost of equipment and limited throughput. Applications of CT imaging. The computed tomographic image is unobscured by other regions of specimen and is highly sensitive to small density differences between the structures in the specimen. This detection capability to present a density or linear attenuation coefficient map across a slice through the specimen enables to visualize many type of structures, flaws, voids & inclusions, porosity, relative density distribution, residual core material in castings, machining defects etc., and is not restricted by the shape or composition of the object being inspected. This ability to provide spatially specific structure and density information enables to obtain three dimensional data representation of the physical components for computer aided design and engineering analysis. This system, in addition to computed tomographs can produce Digital Radiographs to serve as a powerful tool for ndt applications. CONCLUSIONS The applications of conventional Industrial Radiography are now well established and practiced by the industry. These applications will continue to expand in manufacturing industry following substantial developments in supporting technologies, such as small reliable instrumentation, new radiation detectors and rapid data processing. These developments will make the applications more reliable, faster and cheaper. Modern, smaller, light-weight machines producing high-energy and high-intensity X-ray out-put have eliminated the constraints of the conventional/older machines. Modern manufacturing technology has presented requirements for radiography of large assemblies and structures which cannot be moved to inspection facilities and which cannot be inspected adequately using radioactive sources. High-energy X-ray machines, that can be transported to the test site, have provided a means of accomplishing these inspections. When utilized in real-time radiography, high-energy X-ray machines provide instant imaging of thick, high-density parts. These and other features of high-energy radiography demonstrate the advantages of its use in non-destructive testing and assure continual progress in the applications of the method.

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