Real Time X-ray

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Real-Time X-ray System Description
High Pressure Laboratory
Propulsion Research Center
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Contact Information:

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clip image005Researchers at The UAH Propulsion Research Center investigate the physics and chemistry of combustion process and the performance of advanced high-temperature materials.    A new real-time x-ray diagnostic capability is being commissioned at our high pressure combustion laboratory.  This system will be used to study the time-dependent deflagration of solid propellants, the erosion of nozzle materials, and the behavior of liquid injection systems.  Additional capability in performing x-ray computed tomography of these materials is also being included.  The capability will provide new insights into the complex, time-dependent behavior of combustion and erosions process.


Technical Specifications

X-ray Source
ERESCO 200-MF4R made by GE
kV range                           10-200 kV
Focal spot size                                1 mm
Tube current                   0.5-10 mA (3.0 mA / 200 kV)

X-ray Detector Image Intensifier
E5877J-P1 made by Toshiba
Resolution: 77 Lp/cm at 4-inch field of view
110 Lp/cm at 2-inch field of view

X-ray Detector Digital Camera
HiRes3-XR made by Kappa
Type                                  Progressive scan CCD
Frame-rate                     30 frames-per-second
Picture elements         1024 (H) x 1024 (V)
Size of elements          5.5 μm x 5.5 μm


The X-ray source is made to be operated with a continuously-emitted X-ray beam that may be used for both static imaging and real-time radioscopy.   Digital images and video can be obtained with the system.  The source is controlled by a remote controller unit in another part of the lab outside of the test cell in which the X-ray source operates. The camera software used with the X-ray detector is operated at a computer workstation in the laboratory.

The X-ray detector is an image intensifier made by Toshiba, the E5877J-P1. A digital camera, the HiRes3-XR made by Kappa, is installed in the back of the image intensifier to provide images to the computer workstation. The image intensifier and digital camera were integrated by North American Imaging, and the assembly is entirely contained within the white enclosure shown in the picture below. The resolution of the X-ray detector is 77-110 Linepairs-per-cm, depending on which mode is used. The 77 Lp/cm mode uses a 4-inch-diameter circular field of view, and the 110 Lp/cm mode uses a 2-inch-diameter circular field of view. The digital camera has 1024x1024 picture elements.

The X-ray system also includes an assembly of translational stages and a rotary table that can be used to remotely control movement of a sample while X-ray imaging is being performed. The stages provide three axes of translation each with five inches of travel and a top speed of about 1 in/s. When the X-ray system is turned off and emitting nothing, the stage assembly can be manually moved closer or further from the X-ray source on rails shown in the picture below.

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X-ray equipment: X-ray source (right), X-ray detector (left), translational stages and rotary (middle).

The test cell containing the X-ray equipment is 7 feet by 5 feet in area, and the height is approximately 14 feet. The walls of the test cell are 1 foot of concrete with an eighth of an inch of steel plate on the outside. Feedthrough ports allow passage of wires and substance flows into the test cell. Shielding is being installed in the test cell such that any workers in the laboratory will receive no more than 0.3 milliRem/hour of exposure during X-ray operation. This value is the standard to which GE qualifies their X-ray cabinets.

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High Pressure Laboratory Floor Plan: “Test Cell B” is the X-ray test cell