Uses of Cobalt-60
Cobalt-60 is used in a process called industrial radiography, to inspect metal parts and welds for defects. Beams of radiation are aimed at the object to be checked from a sealed source of Co-60. Radiographic film on the opposite side of the source is exposed when it is struck by radiation passing through the objects being tested. More radiation will pass through if there are cracks or breaks in the metal parts and will be recorded on the film. By studying the film, structural problems can be detected. Cobalt emits high-energy gamma rays and is the most frequently used radioisotope in radiotherapy.
Cobalt-60 is also used in blast furnaces to determine times and to quantify income to measure the furnace performance. It is also is specifically made for use in gamma irradiation plants – it is not a waste product of nuclear power plants. This is a gamma sterilization process which uses Cobalt 60 radiation to kill microorganisms on a variety of different products. High-energy photons are emitted from an isotope source (Cobalt 60) producing ionization (electron disruptions) throughout a product. In living cells, these disruptions result in damage to the DNA and other cellular structures. These photon-induced changes at the molecular level cause the death of the organism or render the organism incapable of reproduction.
This gamma radiation is ideal for:
- Sterilization of single use medical supplies such as syringes, implants, surgical gloves, gauze and more
- Elimination of organisms from pharmaceuticals such as ointments and solutions
- Sterilization of tissue/biological based products
- Sterilization in the automotive industry
- Microbial reduction on consumer products
Cobalt-60 plays an important role in the scientific community as well, from promising new stem cell
research to the design and testing of items for the aerospace and nuclear energy industries. Other
beneficial uses for Cobalt-60 include food preservation, sanitization of cosmetics, quarantine application of consumer products.
- Cobalt-60 is ideal for industrial gauging and leveling devices
- Used by plastic manufactures to gauge the thickness of their products
- An accurate detection of explosive devices.
- To scan rail cars for cargo and unwanted passengers