Ionizing radiation can modify physical, chemical and biological properties of the irradiated materials. At present, the principal industrial applications of radiation are sterilization of health care products including pharmaceuticals,irradiation of food and agriculture products (for various objectives, such as dis infestation, shelf life extension, sprout inhibition, pest control and sterilization), and materials modification (such as polymerization, polymer cross linking and gemstone colorization).

Major Fields of radiation processing applications are polymeric materials, food processing, sterilization of medical products and environmental conservation. There are about 200 Co-60 gamma irradiation facilities and 700 electron beam accelerators, mainly for commercial purposes, throughout the world. Radiation cross-linking and grafting techniques of polymeric materials have been providing many unique products including heat materials, heat shrinkable materials, curing of coatings and battery separators. Extensive studies have been devoted to the development of bio-medical materials using radiation processing to prepare bio- compatible materials and controlled release of drugs. New wound dressings have been successfully developed in Poland and Israel for commercial clinical use.

The physical and chemical properties of polymeric materials can be modified by treatment with ionizing radiation in the form of gamma rays, X-rays and energetic electrons. High-energy electron beams are especially useful in this regard. Polymerizing (curing), grafting, cross linking and chain scission reactions can be initiated by irradiation.

The results of such reactions can enhance the utility and value of commercial products. Reaction yields (G-values), temperature rises during treatment and the radiation stability of common polymers should be observed. 

he ongoing IAEA  RCA Projects

At present two projects under IAEA/RCA programme are implemented in the Radiation Processing Section of the Atomic Energy Authority. RAS 1014 – Radiation processing for development of advanced grafted materials for industrial application and environmental preservation 

The main objective of the project is to produce advanced grafted materials for industrial applications, Super Water Absorbant (SWA), for agricultural applications and Heavy Metal Absorbents, Oil absorbents,etc for mitigating environmental pollution.