I’ve heard of several new plastics that make excellent metal replacements. But concrete? That’s a first for me. A hydrogen-rich polymer loaded with boron actually can replace concrete as neutron-shielding material in nuclear power plants or nuclear submarines. The new Quadrant EPP material is currently available in machinable 1-inch x 48-inch x 96-inch plates. Borotron HD050 is a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) enhanced with 5 percent elemental boron to provide extra shielding against neutron radiation. The combination of boron within a matrix of HDPE, a naturally hydrogen-rich material, targets nuclear shielding applications. Hydrogen-rich materials attenuate neutrons extremely well and boron has an affinity for absorbing thermalized neutrons. Potential uses include shielding for radiation therapy rooms, where the product in plate form is integrated into the wall structure. Other application areas include nuclear research centers, nuclear power plants, power generation areas in nuclear submarines, production areas for nuclear detection devices and the equipment itself, and spacecraft exposed to radiation. Borotron HD050 plate is lighter than some other neutron shielding materials such as concrete, and easier to work with in construction than other options including water. The formulation was engineered by Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products (Quadrant EPP).
NIST's new five-year strategic plan for its Material Measurement Laboratory lists additive manufacturing materials development as one of the main areas it will support by developing measurements, data, techniques, and models.
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