Californium-252 is used in a number of applications due to its radioactive properties, including Portable Isotopic Neutron Spectroscopy (PINS), Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA), scanners, reactor start-up rods, and more.
Applications include use as a neutron source in nuclear reactors, material scanners, certain types of cancer treatment, and well logging in the oil industries.
As a man-made element, Californium is not found in nature and must be manufactured through nuclear processes.

Production of Cf-252

The element was first produced at the University of California’s Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley. A microgram of curium was bombarded with alpha particles in the lab’s cyclotron to produce 5,000 atoms of the element with a half-life of 44 minutes. Weighable quantities of Cf-252 were later produced in 1954 and, today, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee uses its High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) to produce an average of 25mg of the isotope per year.

Using the HFIR reactor, neutrons are used to bombard berkelium-249, which forms berkelium-250. This element then quickly decays and forms Cf-250. Further neutron bombardment forms californium-252. Long-term neutron irradiation of plutonium, americium, and curium can produce Cf-252 in milligram amounts. Curium isotopes have also been used to produce the isotope.

Producing Custom Shielding and Shipping Containers for Cf-252

Californium-252 (Cf-252) Production
Californium-252 is a powerful neutron source and thus has the hazardous potential to emit radiation if not encapsulated properly. To ensure the safety of all involved during the creation, transport, delivery, and storage of Cf-252, it is crucial to implement excellent-quality, high-strength protective shielding measures. This requirement can be fulfilled effectively through the production of specialized shielding walls and shipping containers when shipping Cf-252 to customers.

At Frontier Technology Corporation (FTC), our Cf-252 sources are protected by custom neutron shielding walls and Type-A radioactive shipping containers – made in-house at our facilities – to ensure their safe transport, usage, and storage.

Producing Custom Neutron Radiation Shielding Walls

Our neutron shielding walls are custom-built to meet our clients’ unique project and application requirements. They are produced with our clients’ personnel and harsh working environments in mind, offering protection to those in the nuclear, health physics, defense, laboratory, and packaging industries. The shielding walls’ materials are composed of low-atomic-number elements to keep internal neutrons from interacting or forming cross-sections with the walls. Each shielding wall consists of a water-extended polyester inner core and stainless steel coating.

Producing Type-A Radioactive Shipping Containers

Type-A radioactive shipping containers allow for the safe transport and storage of orders containing radioactive material. At FTC, all Type-A shipping containers (standard and custom) are designed and constructed in-house, and their quality and performance are evaluated at each step of the production process. Each container meets all applicable international shipping regulations and certifications, including USADOT Type-A and Specification 7A package requirements.

At FTC, our standard shipping containers safely transport Special Form sources with levels not exceeding 200 mREM/hour at the surface or 10 mREM/hour at 1 meter from the surface, as per Federal and International Regulations. They offer effective preservation of Cf-252 and other neutron sources. For applications requiring additional protection, we can add specialized shielding and shielded source holders.

FTC: A World Leader in Cf-252 Manufacturing and Design

Frontier Technology Corporation is a world-leading Cf-252 neutron source supplier. We offer over 40 years of experience in the logistics and shipping of Cf-252. We adhere to a strict Quality Assurance Program at every part of production to ensure our clients receive the highest quality products and services.

At FTC, we offer turnkey Cf-252 solutions for a wide range of industrial needs. Our capabilities include an extensive range of expert services, including:

  • Design
  • Source encapsulation
  • Custom fabrication
  • Documentation
  • Shipping and logistics

To learn more about the production of Cf-252 or about our Cf-252 sources and services, contact us or request a quote today.