With design and services from Premier Technology, Marshield recently delivered a very large lead pour where over 40,000 Lbs of molten lead was cast into 14 special Hot Cell radiation shielding components or weldments. Hot Cells are shielded radiation containment chambers that allow operators to safely handle and manipulate radioactive isotopes. They provide a safe containment box in which operators can control and manipulate the equipment required. The main uses of hot cells are in the nuclear energy industry and in nuclear medicine, specifically in the production of radiopharmaceuticals. They are also used in cleanroom environments for scientific research.
Hot cells are used to inspect spent nuclear fuel rods and to work with other items which are high-energy gamma ray emitters. For instance, the processing of medical isotopes, having been irradiated in a nuclear reactor or particle accelerator, would be carried out in a hot cell. They can be used to carry out the chemical steps used to extract plutonium from reactor fuel. The cutting of the used fuel, the dissolving of the fuel and the first extraction cycle of a nuclear reprocessing PUREX process (highly active cycle) would need to be done in a hot cell.
Hot cells are typically made of stainless steel and feature viewing windows made of lead glass. Some hot cells also feature cameras for image capture. Arm-like manipulators or telemanipulators enable personnel to operate equipment inside the chamber without putting their hands or arms inside, where exposure to dangerous doses of radiation can occur.
Marshield has extensive experience with the lead shielding aspects of Hot Cells including lead pours and components such as lead glass, lead windows and doors.