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Engineering red tape.

  1. Oct 3, 2007 #1
    I was reading laws and such about the use of radiation producing machines and came up with the question: might it be possible to build and test an accelerator segment being exempt of such regulation if the device was rendered ineffective of producing radiation above a "thresh hold" (where the law is applied) by an engineering safety; such as a decelerator used to thermallize the particles accelerated?

    It seems to me to be reaching but I am curios anyway. I have a project in mind that there is no way I would be able to afford and by my self it would take years to develop but that is neither hear nor there, the idea and the possibility of perusing said idea begs the question asked and conclude "has the world become so cruel as to crush an idea not by its merit but by a technicality of state?"

    This is probibly a question for the department of health but I wanted to see what you think.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 3, 2007 #2


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    Radiation protection is not a matter of being cruel. It is a matter of protecting people and the public in general.

    All one has to do is stay within the limits of radiation exposure. If one is X-ray or gamma radation (cyclotron/synchrotron) radiation, one must keep it withing suitable limits. That is a matter of good practice.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  4. Oct 3, 2007 #3
    Of course I agree with you it was just a rhetorical question. There must be ways to satisfy the laws and thus the protection of health I am just wondering what they are.

    By "all one has to do..." do you mean that a machine that will function in principle but is made not to produce radiation is acceptable? Or are you saying the 'inertia' of the machine should not be such that it may produce radiation without said safeties? Or is there a different approach all together?
  5. Oct 3, 2007 #4
    I'm not sure what you're getting at exactly, but usually a machine that produces radiation can be shielded if it can cause harm. The energy of the radiation lost in the shield is proportional to the thickness and stopping power of the material. You can look up stopping powers for materials on this site if you have some shielding material in mind: http://physics.nist.gov/PhysRefData/Star/Text/PSTAR.html
  6. Oct 4, 2007 #5


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    You could try it the usual way: if you have an idea, you work it out in more detail, you simulate and calculate whatever you think your system will do and do better than the current state of art, and publish all that. Then you try to get funding (maybe through some or other department) to realize a prototype. What's wrong with that ?
  7. Oct 4, 2007 #6


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    As theCandyman indicated, if one's machine produces radation, it must be within limits established by regulatory authorities. To achieve this, one optimizes the design internally, then applies appropriate shielding as necessary.

    If the process produces radiation, the radiation levels must be brought to appropriate levels wherever people may be exposed. Vanesch mentioned the appropriate course - simulation. Simulate the process to determine the radiation levels, or perhaps minimize radiation levels. Then depending on the radiation levels, design the appropriate shielding, and obtain approval.

    A machine producing X-rays and gamma-rays is much easier to deal with than one producing neutrons and activated or fission products. Any machine that accelerates electrons or charged particles into the keV/Mev or more will produce X-rays and gamma-rays and one has to deal with that appropriately.

    Health and safety must be considered when working around radation. It would be counterproductive to develop a 'beneficial' machine which then causes harm to people by virtue of radation exposure.
  8. Oct 4, 2007 #7


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    In tune with others here, just to rectify an eventual misunderstanding: of course it is legal to make a machine which produces radiation, if you follow the rules set out by law and apply the protections, and ask for the right permissions to the regulating authorities. So it is not against the law. It is only against the law to do those things without proper certification, in your basement, where you would be a danger to (yourself and) others, maybe half not knowing what you are doing.

    True, those protections and that certification costs money, but I'd say that that is money well spend. As I said, you don't have to pull that out of your pocket. If you really have a bright idea, in one or other way you may get funding, including all the protections and certifications.

    In most countries the regulations are pretty similar, and that is because they are all implementations of propositions by some organs of the united nations (IAEA, which itself takes its scientific suggestions often from the ICRP). They are indeed relatively severe, but that's the price to pay to obtain benefits from nuclear technology and radiation technology and at the same time protect society from "the fool in his basement".
  9. Oct 4, 2007 #8
    Simulation! noooooo! Oh ok why not. Actually I have done a fair amount of that. The problem is I spend too much time in the numbers and not enough in the real world. I really don’t have much of a clue as far as developing ideas particularly dangerous one. I have always taken the approach of being alone in my endeavors so it hadn’t accrued to me that others could be interested in helping me. I have a better idea now of how the industry looks at radiation producing machinery it looked so daunting at first but if they are looking at exposure levels of an assembled apparatus with the safety interlocks and shielding in place and then looking at the radiation rather then looking at the radiation as a absolute quantity at the point(s) of production, then perhaps the appropriate licensing would not be as extreme. I am a Radiation Safety Officer and the sea of regulation is riddled with sharks! That has made me somewhat of a defeatist when it comes to this kind of thing. Thank you all for you comments! Cheers!
  10. Oct 4, 2007 #9


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    You have a problem even there. The act of decellerating the particles produces radiation!!!

    ANYTIME you accelerate or decellerate a charged particle - you produce radiation.

    It's called "Bremsstrahlung" - which is German for "braking radiation". It's the radiation
    emited when your "put the brakes" on the particle.


    That's how the X-ray machine your dentist uses works. It accellerates electrons, and then
    decellerates them by interacting with a Tungsten "target". The decelleration of the electrons
    produces the X-rays that are used to X-ray your teeth.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  11. Oct 4, 2007 #10


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    Huh ?! If you are a radiation safety officer, then you know all of this.
  12. Oct 4, 2007 #11
    Then perhaps you can see my predicament! All of the fees, paperwork, licensing ect. Are quite daunting! Being a RSO the Second thing I was taught was to look to the law. I.E.

    this is part of Colorado regulation pertaining to Particle Accelerators:

    9.3.2 General Requirements for the Issuance of a Registration for a Particle Accelerator.
    In addition to the requirements of Part 2, a registration application for use of a particle accelerator will be approved only if the Department determines that: The applicant is qualified by reason of training and experience to use the accelerator in question for the purpose requested in accordance with this part and Parts 4 and 10 in such a manner as to minimize danger to public health and safety or property; The applicant's proposed or existing equipment, facilities, and operating and emergency procedures are adequate to protect health and minimize danger to public health and safety or property; The issuance of the registration will not be inimical to the health and safety of the public, and the applicant satisfies any applicable special requirement in 9.4; The applicant has appointed a Radiation Safety Officer; The applicant and the applicant's staff have substantial experience in the use of particle accelerators and training sufficient for application to their intended uses; The applicant has established a radiation safety committee to approve, in advance, proposals for uses of particle accelerators, whenever deemed necessary by the Department; and The applicant has an adequate training program for operators of particle accelerators.

    I do not have experience in the operation of PA’s I have experience in Radiation Safety and the laws for the regulation of such. But my experience is in an industrial environment and not in R&D. it is hard for me to imagine how a person not affiliated with a multi-billion dollar company can afford to go through the rigermoral that a major company or institute can. And of course there is no getting around my lack of specific experience. My experience is in components of the apparatus such as high voltage (up to 20MV) high energy electrical devices (up to 10KJ) and of course radiation at my place of work. I however would like to experiment but I don’t want to do it illegally.
  13. Oct 4, 2007 #12
    Thank you Dr. Greenman for your sound advice. You are of course right and although I haven’t done the calculations the aim was to produce radiation with a longer wavelength which is less penetrating by slowing it gradually rather then with a beam stop. Of course since I haven’t calculated it I cannot determine the effectiveness of the arrangement the question was in light of the purpose of the engineering safety though I realize I worded it poorly. Its nice to see that you have to watch your words around here it keeps you sharp. Anyway thanks again.:smile:
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  14. Oct 4, 2007 #13


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    Right. Now tell me what you find unreasonable in the above ; in other words, which rule do you want to infringe upon for practical purposes ? In legaleze, the above text tells you that:
    - the one who is building an accelerator should more or less know what he's talking about
    - he has to ensure that he doesn't bring the life of people in the public in danger, and must have taken adequate measures in order to guarantee that,
    - it's not because he gets a permission to use his device that he has the permission to put anyone in danger
    - there must be someone around who takes care of radiation issues
    - one must ensure that those using the apparatus have enough knowledge not to do stupid things with it
    - whenever a modification of the use is proposed, the owner should give it some thought before approving
    - he must train his people who are going to use the thing for their work.

    and rightly so ! It's a whole job to ensure that you do not do dangerous things ! If that costs too much money and effort, then you shouldn't do the thing in the first place.

    Maybe the law is there especially for people like you :smile: to stop them from causing harm. Honestly, beyond a certain scale, you cannot do the thing in your basement. That said, on paper you can do what you want, and in any case you will have to have a rather detailled simulation of the radiation produced by your system even in order to be able to design a correct protection. So you have to know how it will operate. If you get at that point, you will know whether demonstrating it experimentally is worthwhile or not, and you might convince some university department or some institute of its value, in which case you can get funding.
  15. Oct 4, 2007 #14
    -I find none of it unreasonable. In fact I agree with it. I wouldn’t have posted it if I didn’t. But it is an illustration of the difficulty in doing experiments without the ability to pay the people involved., and the specific training in that field.

    -ambition is dangerous for everyone and these rules have a purpose. I don’t think that I would be able to actually produce a machine in light of these rules without cooperation, which is back to the subject of the OP, how is it possible to do something about an idea and when there is a will there is a way. You guys are showing me the way.

    - I don’t have a basement, but I do have a facility. Big enough as far a size goes to provide the safe dedicated environment for the experiments.
    right now it is a high voltage effects lab. (lightning effects, insulator testing, dielectric properties, ect.)

    - Yea most of what I do is on paper (I do allot of computer simulations) especially when it will cost more the $10000.

    -in order to put it to use I will definitely have to get with a backer. I am not thinking that far right now though; my interest is in the physics of it and not really the machine in its final use.

    Of course I find that I am needlessly defending my self. After all I did state that I really had no intention to actually produce a machine, only that if someone (anyone) you, me, morbuis all with varying experience and backgrounds with an idea that does not necessarily land within the specific field we are in, make the idea a reality. Of course in most cases the road blocks are not there but in this case they are. And barring all legalities safeties and knowledge doesn’t it seem in just that one would have to simply pass the opportunity by or give it to someone else. It reminds me of the Right brothers, they were bike mechanics and yet they produced the world’s first powered flight (A feat that would be illegal today). Ambition like that today would indeed be very dangerous it’s just a shame that it has to be that way. don’t worry I have given up on the possibility of producing a prototype in my lab, at least until by some circumstance I am able to get the right ducks in a row.(I do have one duck in the row! an RSO) hmmm... now where am I going to get the other ducks?!

    I sure am glad you people are here to talk to about this kind of thing.

  16. Oct 5, 2007 #15
    Since this is what i deal with just about every day at my job, yes it is possible to leaglly build and possess such a machine without the appropriate license. The only real caveat is that it cannot produce ionizing radiation, which is what the regulations apply to. I have no idea what your intended function for the machine is, but if it is incapable of producing ionizing radiation, then it is legal. If it is capable, it must be licensed regardless of how much of a radiation field it could produce.
  17. Oct 5, 2007 #16
    The apparatus is a high current 4MeV accelerator segment, and proton injector. It is going to produce radiation at some point, shielding will block it but radiation is still produced. I don’t see a way around it; I don’t mind satisfying all of the laws involved. I can provide the proper shielding, interlocks, environmental isolation, ect. But I don’t think the health department will issue me a permit due to my lack of experience in accelerator operation. I am an RSO but they probably won’t recognize that, as it is in a different field, so I will probibly have to find me an RSO in that field as well, I deal mainly with sources.

    however, your post has me curios perhaps you can elaborate on your statement.
  18. Oct 5, 2007 #17
    I work for a corporation that owns about 20 cycltron facilities and 160 nuclear pharmacies. I work as a health physicist and RSO for our corporate R&D lab doing licensing, compliance, dosimetry, and a host of other applied health physics functions. Thus, I deal with the regulations involving particle accelerators (and radioactive materials) on a daily basis.

    As an RSO in whatever field you're in, you probably have the necessary radiation protection experience. You just need the accelerator operation experience.
  19. Oct 5, 2007 #18
    hey! you have your work cut out for you! my job is easy compaired to yours!
  20. Oct 5, 2007 #19
    Well, there are 4 other HPs that do this work as well (except for the RSO part, which is a breeze for a small R&D lab).
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