Luminaires for Radioactive Applications
The harshest of conditions
Just like you, I want all of our products to work in every possible condition. I know colleagues who’ve sworn when a light bulb burns out, or when I’ve spilled water on my laptop. Still, after we calm down, it’s easy to fix those everyday problems. But what happens when your product needs to work in extremely harsh conditions? Right now, our products perform in almost all hazardous locations, except today we are putting them through one of the severest tests. Radioactivity.
Now, let’s define the opportunity. There are still over 50 new nuclear reactors under construction worldwide. Hospitals can use Radium 223 often to treat cancer. About 65,000 tons of uranium are mined every year. Even some of our vegetables are treated with radioactivity. Industrial radiography is in everyday use. In fact, radioactive applications are potentially everywhere.
So, given the potential demand, how could we develop radiation safe lights?
How radiation kills lights
First, together with our team, I needed to know precisely how radiation kills LEDs. A few days of research later, we found some interesting issues. It took six years to design a robot that would survive the radiation levels from the Fukushima disaster. Many previous robots failed due to complex circuit failure. The radiation had fried their circuit boards.
Would the radiation fry our LED circuit boards?
Going back to the internet, I found some even more interesting information. CERN figured out why LED’s failed in high radiation environments. It was the power source! Most power sources failed in under five minutes, but not bridge rectifier designs. They were safe from radiation. Also, distance worked wonderfully. If the PSU was more 300 feet away from the light, the instances of failure could decrease dramatically.
I knew that we could use that information to build better fixtures!