Irradiation - The Technology
Electron Beam processing is a manufacturing process that utilizes an electronic machine called an electron accelerator to facilitate a desired outcome. The principals at work in an electron accelerator are similar to those in a television set. They both incorporate an electron gun that produces a stream of electrons. The stream of electrons is produced by heating the filament in the electron gun. As the electrons leave the gun, they are focused by magnets to produce a "beam" of electrons.
The electron beam in a TV set, however, only needs to scan over the surface of the picture tube. For an electron beam to be useful for industrial purposes, the electrons have to be able to penetrate the surface of the materials being processed. To achieve this, the electrons are run through a series of chambers. As the electrons move from one chamber to the next, more force is applied to them so they move with increasing speed. By the time the electrons reach the end of the series of chamber, they are moving at extraordinarily high speed, enabling penetration.
To process products, a conveyor system is used to transport product in through a concrete maze, under the beam, and then back out of the maze. When the product passes under the beam, the desired results are achieved. The speed in which the conveyor moves the product under the beam determines the dose delivered to the material.
The slower the product moves, the higher the dose. Electron Beam Processing is classified as an irradiation application, and is used to achieve an array of specifically desired results. For example, the most common applications are, the sterilization of medical devices, cross-linking of plastics, curing of composite materials, and the disinfection of herb's and spices.
The most significant potential application, however, is in the processing of beef, pork and chicken to eliminate dangerous pathogens that cause food poisoning.
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