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The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. You'll be interested to know that the Italian Navigator has just landed in the New World that with the voice of author Compton as he first reported the birth of atomic energy the birth of a new world. This series has been called the New World. Its aim is to outline some of the great benefits that atomic energy is bringing to mankind. The program's up produced by the University of Alabama. Hundred. Program five atomic energy industry.
This program like the programs to follow a medicine and an agriculture will be mainly about radioisotopes the products of nuclear reactors. Here is a brief quotation from an important speech made by the manager of the Atomic Energy Commission Oakridge operation. Mr Sam Arce appearing. On the 30th of April 955 he welcomed over 30 foreign students to Oakridge. The students had come there as part of the Atoms for Peace program. And here is what Mr. Issa Perry told them. Ten years ago the word radioisotopes had lowered to the public at large. Radioisotopes word it does have some meaning in the public. This sorts itself with the atomic energy program. And leaves a connotation of benefit to mankind. A shipment of historical
significance left the Oak Ridge National Laboratory here for St. Louis Missouri on August 2nd 1946. It was smaller in size but of tremendous importance or it was the first commercial shipment of radioisotopes ever made in the atomic energy program. We asked Dr. Paul S. Abel so to carry on for us the story of the radioisotope industry. Dr. Robert Sowle is director of the isotopes division at Oak Ridge Tennessee a division run by the Atomic Energy Commission. He has written and spoken a great deal about this particular aspect of atomic energy. Dr. Eva So the public is coming to realize more every day that the military atom has a Siamese twin that peaceful out the peaceful atom has been developing alongside its highly publicized counterpart the military atom perhaps more slowly but nevertheless persistently. Today we don't talk about industrial peacetime use of the atom have already
arrived uses that are becoming widespread and providing dividends in better and cheaper products to the public. As the atomic energy program end of the year one thousand fifty five years ago there were only 100 industrial firms exploring the uses of the new industrial till they radioisotope the radioactive by products of the Atomic Energy reactors. Today ten times as many or over 1000 industrial firms are using these radioactive bi products. This constitutes almost 50 percent of the users. Most of the other users are medical and research scientists. The atomic principals are nuclear principle involved in most industrial applications are not profound. As a matter of fact some of these uses were conceived toward the end of the last century when radium and X-rays were first discovered. These potential industrial uses spurred the early development of atomic energy
and the early uses of radiation. The first useful byproduct of atomic energy was the radioisotope was the time I got a commission made available to research workers as far back as August 2nd of 1946 just after the end of World War 2. The radioisotope is in reality a new type of tool which has proved extremely valuable in research and development work as well as an everyday industrial problems. A radioactive form of iron or chromium for example is quite like the iron or chromium we know it reacts the same Chemically it looks the same and it weighs about the same. However the radioactive form has one remarkable characteristic if Scott is constantly sending out a radioactive signal. Since the radio life don't behave chemically like that online element that is radioactive I behave like iron. It will fall along with this element wherever it goes. With the aid of a sensitive instrument such as the Geiger counter a worker can follow the signals and
thus find the location and concentration of the radio isotope at all times. This is what we call a tracer atom use in other words we can trace the radioisotope island to find out what they're doing in all kinds of processes. Is this remarkable characteristic which is made radio isotopes so useful in agriculture medicine the physical sciences and industry. Now to make these radioisotopes want to take almost any element such as phosphorus or sodium or iron and put this material into an atomic reactor such as we have here at Oak Ridge and it will become radioactive. For example a penny a diam a roller bearing or even a phosphorus on the head of a MASH or any other a wide variety of materials or objects can be put into a suitable container and then introduced into an atomic reactor. During the intense bombardment with the atomic radiation is called neutrons which are inside the reactor. Some of the atoms in the material are made radioactive thereby becoming radioisotopes. Each of these
radioactive atoms will sooner or later return to a stable form by meeting some type of penetrating radiation. The radioactive signal which we just mentioned. So if there are hundreds of types of industrial use left ops we couldn't discuss them all. The day we get our break them down a certain types representative example. There's one group it uses it which is used as a source of radiation as a source of penetrating rays which can go through matter to find out about the matter or to control the products being produced by an industrial firm. The other type us as we noted above the radio isotope is a tracer atom for a particular element or compound. I want to find out what this element or compound is doing great complex system system in an industrial plant to try to improve its chemical processes. After Dr. Ab-Soul general comment let us look at the uses of these isotopes in
more detail. And these uses are many radioisotopes save industry many dollars of money and many hours of time. They give much finer analytical results than could be gained by any other means. Year ago carraige Dr. Ralph S. Overman is chairman of the special training division of the Oak Ridge Institute of nuclear studies. He is a chemist with a particular interest in isotopes and he's going to get in on the story of the uses and industries of all kinds. Dr Overman. Radioactive isotopes or radio isotopes as they are often called have been available for some years. They have been produced for quite a time by cyclotrons the great difference now is that they can be obtained from nuclear reactors in much larger quantities than they could be before they cost very much less than they did. And there are now many more different types of radioisotopes available in these quantities. I might give an example of the difference
of these. The cost and times involved. One of the directors of us back to John group told me several years ago that it required eight days of cyclotron time to produce one puree of radioactive phosphorus at a cost of some five thousand dollars. At the present time we are able to produce this amount for twenty two dollars and fifty cents at the same time we are producing many hundreds of other shipments of radioisotopes in the nuclear reactor. The isotopes that we're concerned with are those that give off a one of or more of three kinds of radiation is these radiate radiation that come from these unstable isotopes are called alpha beta or gamma rays. They are quite useful for a number of standpoints and will discuss some of those here. I think we should say just a word about these radiations first alpha rays are rays that come off from
substances such as radium and some of the materials that we have been familiar with for quite some time. Beta rays are those that come from other isotopes that are produced a little bit more usefully in the reactor. These are little particles of matter called electrons that are stopped by a relatively thin amount of material. Most of them would be stopped by oh a few sheets of cardboard or something of the star of gamma rays on the others a hand are considerably more penetrating and that would require a number of inches of lead frequently to stop the majority of gamma rays from a given some sample. I suppose if we're talking about definitions we should concern ourselves with one other definition and that is that each isotope is characterized by a quantity which we call its half life. This means that a particular isotope is described by its energy
of its radiation and its half life. To illustrate the point of the half life we might just use an example radioactive sodium has a half life of about 15 hours. This means that if we had a sample of radioactive sodium half of the atoms would have decayed in 15 hours. Half of the amount that are left in a dish will 15 hours and another half of what's left in 15 hours and so forth. To discuss the uses and industry of radioisotopes I have Dr C. E. Crompton assistant director of the isotopes division of the Atomic Energy Commission here with me. I think we might point out that gamma rays are very similar to X-rays with which we're all familiar. Most of us know about the use of x rays in medicine where many of us have obtained a chest x ray and this type of application ie
radiation penetrates our body and is detected by a photographic film. The more dense portions of the body such as the bone intercepts more radiation than does the soft tissue and the film shows us difference. Since bone is represented by a less exposed portion and exactly the same manner gamma rays from radioactive isotopes are used industrially making radiographs of metal objects of wells to detect the flaws in the welding process and of castings to the tech to any flaws in that process. The flaws are shown up again by examining the photographic film very carefully in the same manner. A source of beta radiation might be directed at a sheet of material and the amount of radiation that penetrates detected by an electronic
detector such as a Geiger counter in this case the amount of radiation that penetrates the material is an indication of how much of the material was there. And this is what is commonly referred to as a thickness gauge thickness gauges are used by about 300 different companies in the industrial field and in fact about the same number of companies also use radio isotopes in radiography. That likeness cages been very useful since it is a non-contact gauge and can very easily measure the thickness of material such as a brass sheet during its production wear a contact type of gauge would obviously be detrimental. The thickness gauges of found very wide acceptance and free and at the present time they are being used to measure in routine production operations thankfulness of paper sheet rubber plastic
and a variety of materials such as sand paper and in fact the radioactive thickness gauge can be adapted to measuring the thickness of a tin plate on plated on other metals. Dr. Cranford I think maybe we should clear out one small matter here. We are speaking here of materials that are put into a reactor and left for a certain length of time and then are brought out of the reactor and encased in a suitable shield and then can be used in the in the method that you have described. This I was thinking that someone might have confronted we were considering all the radiation from a reactor itself. That's a very good point. After radio isotopes are produced in a reactor many of them are processed or cased in a protective shield and then in a sense being portable can be used wherever they are needed in industry. One other point we might
mention here is that the radiation in reactors and the radiation from radio isotopes out of reactors can be used to study radiation effects of extremely large amounts of radiation definitely affect the physical properties of the material. The amounts of radiation that we encounter in uses such as radiography and thickness gauges is not very large with respect to producing these changes. The radiation from a reactor however. Can become extremely large and will produce definite physical changes. Ordinarily the physical changes are undesirable ones but occasionally the physical properties are brought about by the changes in physical properties brought about by a radiation are beneficial. One interesting example of this is the plastic poly thing. When that poly thing is a radiated with gamma
rays its melting point is raised from 115 degrees centigrade to more than 300 degrees centigrade and it becomes immune to Solomon's which would dissolve it completely in its normal state. These new properties would not ordinarily be acquired by any other chemical means. This new radiated power I think I'm going to be made into bottles which can be star lived in boiling water because of the higher melting point brought about by exposure to radiation. I think one of the interesting aspects of that work is some of the work with a new trend sisters from which some of the materials are irradiated by various kinds of atomic radiation and it changes their electrical properties quite to quite a considerable amount. I think you might also mention the radiation of some rubber products. This has it interesting to me of in two respects. One of them is that we're finding out a great deal more
about the way in which rubber can be made better and which it can be made to have certain properties. And I'm also thinking of another use of radioactivity in which we can incorporate radioactive material in some substance such as rubber and then simply determine how much is worn off. I think maybe a veteran example of all of that is the use of the by number of oil companies on radioactive piston rings. The older method of determining the wire that one gets from a particular type of motor oil for example involves maybe weighing a piston ring putting it on a test motor and running it for possibly 200 hours stopping the motor and retaking the piston ring out and then weighing it to see how much was lost. Obviously if play the better a motor oil was they lower the amount of weight loss that one would get in this test
by making the by putting the piston rings into a reactor making them radioactive. It becomes quite easy to just simply put the piston ring in the motor and let it operate for just a very few minutes and then determine if any of the radioactive iron has been worn off into the oil. I've been told that one can get the same information in some three or four minutes that it formerly took to get from 200 in 200 hours. I presume this means better motor oil are cheaper more oil. It might be interesting to note that estimates have been made just as to how sensitive this technique of measurement is in determining the wear of the piston ring. Someone has estimated that we can detect as small an amount as 100 billionth of an ounce of iron worn off from the piston ring. One can get the same kind of information about a great many different materials cutting
tools from a machine shop for example can be irradiated and one can determine how much water wearing off is taking place very easily. I'm also interested in another experiment that was done by a leading floor wax company in which they put a small amount of radioactive material in the floor wax and then determine how much was worn off by different procedures of buffing and wire and so that they could to tell Varick could tell very easily how much was left on the surface under various treatments. I think one of the most interesting things about the use of radioisotope in industry is their personal nature. They can be used in all types of industries. For example one of the interesting Chrysler studies occurred in the textile industry and that industry where they are using several different colors in printing textile
fabric quite often one of the more prominent colors such as purple. Migrates and contaminates the reservoir of a more sensitive color such as yellow. The result of this process is the contamination or off color the resultant pattern. And sometimes large amounts of the final text all have to be downgraded and sold at a lower cost. By tagging the more prominent color or the so-called Pirate collar with radioactivity it's easy to detect its migrations and a Geiger counter is then used to detect the invasion of this pirate collar and to some of the more sensitive collars. And this means they are able to control the process of printing in such a manner that they only get high quality fabrics.
Another possibility of for using radioactive tracers is in the pipeline industry that is the oil industry in which they're using of putting a number of different kinds of oil through a pipeline. Many companies find that they need to put as many as 14 different kinds of petroleum products in the line at a given time. Such a pipeline might be several hundred miles long and they would need just a few hundred gallons of each kind. One of the problems that they were of have run into for a long time in working with this kind of a project is to determine when one particular kind of material has gone through the line past a certain point and when they are now passing another one. One of the interesting experiments that was done at the health has found to be useful was that of putting a small amount of radioactive material at the end of each at the interface between each of the various kinds of materials. This means that when this radioactive material got to the Geiger counter at the
other end at this where the distribution of the material needed to be made that this could be detected by the radio and radiate radiations which came from the pipe in such a manner as to give information as to where the edge of the material was. I understand these have even been worked out so that when the radioactivity comes along they will automatically just open one valve and kills another one to distribute the material to another tank. Another interesting application of Fraser's is in the laundry and detergent see industry where it is often very difficult to accurately measure the removal of traces of our sewing agents. For example the washing machine and street has very carefully studied the performance of their machines and of soaps and detergents in their machines by synthesizing radioactive soils. For
example you can synthesize a radioactive soft or fat or egg yolk for example. And these radioactive soils prepared in the laboratory are used to. Soil fabrics and then by means of radiation you can detect the speed and completeness with which traces of these so I also removed in the laundering process. This is proved to be very important and is certainly an application that is of interest to the average person and I understand even that some of the testing laboratories have included tests such as you described Dr Compton and some of those standard specifications for their usual test. I think this is another area which you suggested a few moments ago to a great many what what we call fundamental studies are carried out in industrial laboratories using radioactivity as in the form of tracers. I think
possibly want to example of this is is a technique which we call activation analysis. A great many types of chemical analysis can terminate a mountain a small and one part of an impurity in a million parts of southern material under study by the methods of activation analysis. We are able to put certain kinds of materials into a reactor and by taking them out and determining the amount of radioactivity formed we can tell how much impurity there must have been in the sample originally. One experiment that I know of that was done in this way showed that there was one part in 10 billion in this. This is much better than most of the chemical analyses that we are familiar with in the laboratory. I might point out too that this kind of work is being done routinely by some of the national laboratories as a
service to those people who want this kind of information from their samples. I wonder Dr. Alderman if you might give us an example of how activation are now asas have been used in the street to improve products. Well I think one possibility would be the interesting experiment used to be considered but is now in actual practical production of obtaining magnesium from seawater. One of the difficult problems which they had to face when they were developing this was to determine how much chlorine there was left in the magnesium metal practically all of the chemical methods which they tried were insensitive to this determination so that they inserted some of the main the ZM in the reactor and then when it was taken out they were able to separate the radioactive chlorine and from the other metal. And by determining how much radioactivity was produced in the chlor and they could go back and calculate how
much chlorine was necessary or how much chlorine was present in the magnesium at the time that it was. Separated from the seawater I'm glad you pointed out that last example Dr Overman because the use of radio isotopes in research in general is certainly one of the most important contributions of this new tool derived from reactors although our discussion has been primarily on industry. It's certainly true that radio isotopes are proving to be a very valuable research tool and all types of research from what Dr Overman and Dr Crompton have said we cannot help being struck by the versatility of these radioisotopes. They encompass many different products as we just heard floor wax washing machines plastics dyes for textiles gauges transistors castings and weddings piston rings and cutting tools and oil pipelines. And they're also of great
value in many kinds of research. Dr. Abel Saul of the isotopes to be Asian comes into the program again to say a final word about their continued application. There can be no doubt from these many illustrations how the everyday industrial uses of radioisotopes that you have just heard that radio isotopes hold many keys to the present day industrial problems and to secrets already the use of isotopes constitute the most vigorous and perhaps the largest peacetime use of atomic energy. Many believe that radioactivity and the capabilities of the industrial atom will soon be as from a or to the industrial west as electricity is today. Isotopes have indeed meant a great deal to industry. They mean no less to medicine and their uses in medicine will be the subject of the next programme in the series which outlines some of the benefits. Atomic energy is conferring
on the new world. Order as. Levin. Was. You have been listening to the fifth programme in the series. You heard Dr. Paul S. Ab-Soul director of the isotopes division of the Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge. Dr. C. E. Crompton assistant director of that division and Dr. Ralph C. Overman chairman of the special training division of the Oak Ridge Institute of nuclear studies. Your narrator Oswald Whitaker the series is produced by radio station WUOM of the University of Alabama under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Producer is Maury youde your announcer.
Greg this is the N A B tape network.
New world of atomic energy
Atomic energy and industry
Producing Organization
University of Alabama
Oak Ridge Institute
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features the voices of S.R. Sapirie, Dr. Paul Aebersold, Dr. C.E. Crompton, and Dr. Ralph Overman, all of Oak Ridge.
Series Description
About peacetime uses of atomic energy, with experts from Oak Ridge and other atomic energy centers.
Broadcast Date
Nuclear energy--Industrial applications--United States--History.
Media type
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Interviewee: Overman, Ralph
Interviewee: Aebersold, Paul C. (Paul Clarence), 1910-1967
Interviewee: Crompton, C.E.
Producer: Gouds, Moyra
Producing Organization: University of Alabama
Producing Organization: Oak Ridge Institute
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-7-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:11
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Chicago: “New world of atomic energy; Atomic energy and industry,” 1956-01-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “New world of atomic energy; Atomic energy and industry.” 1956-01-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: New world of atomic energy; Atomic energy and industry. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from