nuclear plant

Frontier Technology Corporation (FTC) has been at the forefront of californium-252 (Cf-252) neutron source manufacturing and design since 1984. FTC is an innovator in the logistics, packaging, and shipping of radioactive materials. As our core industrial focus, we serve the nuclear industry with:

We offer a variety of product research, testing, and monitoring services as well. 

Here we provide you with all you need to know about our neutron sources and capabilities for nuclear applications.

About Californium-252 Neutron Sources at Frontier Technology Corporation

In 1950, the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California created the first 5,000 Cf-252 atoms using a cyclotron to bombard a microgram of curium with alpha particles. In 1954, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory successfully produced weighable amounts of Cf-252 using a high flux isotope reactor (HFIR). The laboratory produces approximately 25 mg of the isotope annually.

Protecting Cf-252 sources during their transport and implementation is vital. At FTC, our californium-252 isotope is effectively encapsulated within custom neutron shielding walls, which is made with our highly effective water extended polyester (WEP) material. When shipping Cf-252, our Type-A radioactive shipping containers provide safe storage. We make our protective storage and shipping containers in-house to ensure the highest standards.

  • Model 10. Our single-encapsulated Cf-252 source is part of the Model 10 series, a capsule commonly implemented within multilayer enclosures. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) certified our Model 10 as Special Form, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved it for general use. Made with all NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceable materials, the capsule is zircaloy-2 or 304L stainless steel with a TIG-welded enclosure. 
  • Model 100. The Model 100 series is a double-encapsulated source that includes a Model 10 series inner capsule. The outer capsule uses stainless steel 304L or zircalloy-2 materials, with various customizable options.

Californium-252 in Nuclear Reactor Start-Up Rods

FTC is a leading global supplier of Cf-252 nuclear start-up rod assemblies. We manufacture Cf-252 sources, NDT, antimony-beryllium pellets, and every part of the rod assembly within the customer’s specifications while adhering to the highest safety and nuclear industry standards.

Start-up rods use Cf-252 to initiate a nuclear fission reaction within fuel rods. The high neutron flux and spontaneous fission of Cf-252 cause the fission reaction in materials that cannot maintain it independently. Uranium oxide fuel rods are bombarded by Cf-252 to sustain a nuclear reaction.

Type-A Shipping Containers for Californium-252 Sources

Safe and secure transportation of neutron sources is imperative. Type-A shipping containers ensure the neutron sources will not cause harm to personnel or the environment. They also ensure that the neutron sources are maintained in perfect condition until they are ready for implementation. At FTC, we design and manufacture Type-A shipping containers in-house to ensure that they meet the highest standards. We also offer containers for sale or rental.

Our Type-A shipping containers are USDOT-certified to meet Specification 7A and Type-A packaging requirements. Type-A containers are rigorously tested and certified for use through a series of tests. The tests simulate typical transportation conditions, such as rainfall, compression, drops, and penetration, ensuring the container meets specified requirements before actual source containment.

FTC’s Type-A containers maintain external radiation levels not exceeding 10 mRem/hour at 1 meter’s distance and 200 mRem/hour on the container’s surface to conform to the legal limits. They shield neutron sources like Cf-252 during transportation and provide adequate protection for returning the sources after depletion (click here for information regarding our depleted source return program). Our containers also meet the storage and transportation requirements for radioactive isotopes, known as Special Form materials.

Choosing Frontier Technology Corporation for Nuclear Applications

Frontier Technology Corporation offers customers in the nuclear industry over three decades of neutron source and reactor start-up rod expertise. Our clientele has full access to our portfolio of nuclear research and product design services. We also offer our fee-free return source program​ for the convenient return and disposal of depleted californium-252 sources.

For further exploration, we invite you to visit our information and specifications of our Cf-252 sources and our resource library

To see how we can support your nuclear application, please ​reach out to us​ or ​request a quote​ today.