Radiation Shielding

  • Location: Fitchburg, Wisconsin
  • Size: 4’L x 4’W x 12’H precast blocks
  • Purpose: To provide biological radiation shielding for a new industrial radiography facility.

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About this Project

Biological radiation shielding may not be something that comes to mind when thinking about the purpose of precast concrete. However, this isn’t the first time we have manufactured precast blocks for that application. We have worked with a company called Phoenix in the past to create a small block bunker at their Fitchburg, WI facility in order to block radiation from escaping their neutron generator space. Phoenix was founded in Madison, Wisconsin in 2005 and has designed and manufactured the world’s strongest commercial neutron generators. Medicine, defense, and energy sectors are just a few examples of the various markets that Phoenix provides services for. Joshua McCumber, Neutron Radiography Project Manager at Phoenix, mentioned, “Wieser has worked with us in the past to create a smaller modular block bunker at our current headquarters. Additional size and specifications complicate the new bunker design, Wieser was up for the challenge.”

For this project, Phoenix was in need of a precast concrete block bunker for their new industrial radiography facility. The main challenge was that the concrete had to greatly minimize the potential for activation due to high neutron and gamma radiation fields. Through the design-build process, we designed 4’L x 4’W x 12’H precast blocks with unique reinforcement. Alsan 100 Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer (FRP) rebar was used to provide structural support while minimizing the amount of ferrous material (activation from radiation) present in the bunker, no fly-ash was used since it can also become radioactive, and structural support fibers were added to the mix. Another challenge was the large size of the blocks, which required precise planning for logistics. The overall timeline for completion of their Neutron Imaging Center is 12-18 months.