University of Birmingham Use Bariwall® Radiation Shielding

The use of Bariwall® in High-Flux Accelerator Bunker, University of Birmingham

The nuBeam Accelerator

The University of Birmingham is at the forefront of science and engineering on nuclear materials. The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy funded company Neutron Therapeutics, to install a new ‘nuBeam’ accelerator at Birmingham. The nuBeam accelerator is an innovative and compact neutron source and provides an alternative to a nuclear test reactor. The high flux proton beam will produce neutrons through the interaction with a high-power lithium target. The power achieved by the nuBeam is unmatched for this type of accelerator:

  • nuBeam produces up to 100kW of beam power
  • The source is composed of a 2.6MeV electrostatic proton accelerator
  • 30+ mA of current

The use of Bariwall® in Radiation Shielding Doors

Our Bariwall® bricks offer outstanding lead-free radiation shielding solutions. The bricks are produced from high-density naturally occurring minerals which have the following properties:

  • X-ray absorbance
  • Low hardness
  • Chemical inertness

Due to these properties, the Bariwall® bricks are being used to fill the hollow metal doors within the bunker, attenuating any residual radiation, forming an effective barrier to radiation in all directions.

Versatile & Easy to Handle

The size and shape of these bricks is ideal for compact spaces, providing radiation shielding without using up significant space within the bunker.

Using Bariwall® bricks not only helps attenuate radiation from extremely high energy, powerful machines such as the nuBeam accelerator but they also help optimise the geometries of the different parts of the facility.

Impact on Research:

This new facility is key in both radiation damage in materials and current medical physics research areas. The high-flux nuBeam accelerator is looking to transform traditionally difficult to treat cancers with the non-invasive boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT).

During BNCT, the patients are injected with a boron-10 containing drug which will selectively collect in tumour cells. The patient will then receive radiation therapy, subjecting the invasive malignant tumour cells to neutron beam radiation. The neutrons are captured by the boron-10 isotope to generate high energy alpha particles, which destroy the cells within the tumour in a more localised manner.

In recent years the developments in accelerator technology has allowed the successful installation of accelerators in hospitals and medical facilities making BNCT is an emerging treatment with promising results.

The facility will allow the testing of new materials, and instruments, for both fission and fusion reactors.