Gamma Radiography – Technology with Surprising Staying Power!

Swift, Lawrence Swift; QSA Global, Inc; United States

Swift, L.; QSA Global; USA
Lapinskas, J.R.; QSA Global; USA
Shilton, M.G.; QSA Global; USA
Kelly, R.T.; QSA Global; USA

ID: ECNDT-0121-2018

The science behind Gamma Radiography has been around for more than 100 years with initial images produced using Radium and after WWII with newly commercially available isotopes such as Ir-192, Co-60, Se-75 and Yb-169. Despite all the obvious challenges of working with radioactivity, the use of isotope based radiography has continued to grow and in fact grew at a compounded rate of 5.2% per year between 2005 and 2014, when more than 30,000 sources were used by industry in a variety of NDT applications. Even the unprecedented (62)% ($US 322 Billion) drop in Worldwide O&G capital spending reduced isotope demand by only 4.8%. All of this growth occurred in spite of numerous initiatives by governmental, academic and industrial organizations to find alternatives.
This begs the obvious question that against the backdrop of political risk, an ever more daunting regulatory environment and stated government agendas to replace the technology, how is it that Gamma Radiography has continued to grow and thrive? Unfortunately, (or fortunately from one’s point of view), it is the only technology that provides a Non-Destructive image of some pretty critical industrial and infrastructure components, the failures of which are catastrophic. Alternatives such as X-Ray and Ultrasound have inherent technical limitations which prevent their successful use in all applications where NDT images are required to ensure the quality, safety and integrity of the system.

Gamma Radiography is likely to be around for a long time. It is up to us to ensure that risks associated with the technology are minimized through adequate technician training and the use of the best equipment and certified compatible consumables based on the safest possible design criteria.