Phoenix LLC plans to construct a second neutron imaging center near the aerospace, defense, and tech hub of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California to address the regional demand for commercially available neutron radiography services. This announcement follows the success of the company’s first Phoenix Neutron Imaging Center, or PNIC, in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, which opened in the fall of 2019. PNIC is one of the only sites in the world to offer production-scale, high-quality neutron radiography (N-ray), a powerful industrial nondestructive testing method for quality assurance, R&D, and failure analysis. Unlike most other N-ray providers, Phoenix uses proprietary accelerator-based neutron generator technology as the source of neutrons for the N-ray processes.
The planned west-coast neutron imaging facility would provide a variety of key aerospace and defense nondestructive testing (NDT) services including thermal neutron radiography (film and digital), fast neutron radiography, thermal and fast neutron computed tomography (CT), X-ray imaging, X-ray CT, radiation effects testing, and neutron activation analysis.
The facility is expected to further grow Phoenix’s employee base, with future potential to expand beyond a dedicated NDT service center into a regional manufacturing and engineering hub that will attract top talent from the California and West Coast university system to support Phoenix’s growing company charter.
The facility plans to support the growing U.S. space and defense sector by providing critical inspection capabilities to energetic device manufacturers. Energetic devices are crucial for aircraft, spacecraft, and satellites, acting as the catalysts of ejection, payload separation, and explosive signal transfer systems, and so the ability to reliably and nondestructively inspect them using neutron imaging is paramount.
Rather than producing neutron radiation through nuclear fission, which requires fissile material and produces heavy, long-lived radioactive byproducts, Phoenix uses particle accelerators to produce neutron radiation. Phoenix relies on this accelerator-driven method of neutron production to provide fast and thermal neutron imaging, matching reactor-driven neutron imaging facilities for image quality and throughput.
“Placing a new Phoenix neutron imaging center on the West Coast would allow Phoenix to better provide new and existing clients in critical industries access to this important technology that helps ensure their products are free from potentially catastrophic defects, significantly improving the security of a critical defense supply chain,” says Phoenix president Dr. Evan Sengbusch.
Phoenix maintains an ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100 Rev D (2016) certified quality management system as well as NAS-410 certified nondestructive testing personnel.