Storing and containing radioactive materials in any type of industry is a challenge, as is providing a safe room or contained space for individuals and equipment for use in areas where radiation is a concern. For both types of applications, a lead vault offers the level of protection required.
When creating a lead vault to meet the specifications of a given application, understanding the level of radiation and the required shielding capacity of the lead material is critical. Not all lead materials offer the same shielding and protective levels, and understanding both the minimum and the potential maximum levels of radiation is an important starting point.
The size of the vault is another essential point in choosing a design. For high levels of radiation protection, lead bricks are most often selected, which can limit the design options. With lower levels of protection, lead rooms and vaults can be made of lead-lined gypsum or lead-lined plywood, or even from lead sheet or plate.
It is possible to create mobile vaults on wheels using lead plate or sheet materials. This allows for a single vault to be moved to different locations as needed. Choosing the correct thickness of lead as well as the ideal alloy for the protection required is always an essential consideration. The use of plate or lead-lined construction materials offers greater freedom in the design, size, and features of the vault.
With the choice of alloys for the lead vault, a higher or a lower percentage of lead can be selected based on the specific radiation protection or containment required. There are lead alloys with 99.94% lead down to 95% lead.
Different alloys offer a variety of features and benefits. In most cases, for optimal radiation protection, 99.9% pure lead is used in creating vaults to store radioactive materials or to protect from radiation exposure.
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