Innovative Applications

Innovative applications of gamma irradiation

Every day around the world, there are problems to solve—from environmental concerns to helping people in third-world countries to ridding food of dangerous bacteria. Gamma can be successfully applied to these challenges.

Nordion’s Role

Nordion is a world leading supplier of Cobalt-60—the isotope that produces gamma radiation, a design authority for commercial gamma processing systems that irradiate products and a dedicated advocate for gamma technology. Furthermore, our dedicated first-class team of chemistry and physicist experts collaborates with customers to solve unique product challenges.

Applications for Gamma

Material Modification of Natural Polymers

Gamma irradiation makes it possible to redesign a particular material so that it serves a specific purpose. The polymer, cassava starch, for example, is the base material to make super water absorbents (SWA). SWAs processed by radiation are useful for agriculture in areas where there is little rain or frequent periods of drought. SWAs keep the fertilizer close to roots for as long as they need it. This reduces waste, reduces pollution of waterways and saves farmers money.*
*Source: IAEA Division of Public Information, 2013

Disinfestation of Beehives

American Foulbrood (AFB) is a serious bacterial disease that affects beehives. The disease is essentially incurable leaving beekeepers with few options but to burn infected hives, which can result in significant replacement costs. Gamma is a cost-effective alternative that has been demonstrated to be an effective means of treating AFB-contaminated hives for reuse.*
*Source: Gamma radiation sanitation in beekeeping management

Insect Population Control

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) was pioneered in the 1950s to control populations of insects that spread disease or impact agricultural crops. Gamma irradiation is used to render male screw-worm flies, tse-tse flies and other fruit flies sterile. Large numbers of sterile males are then released into the wild, dramatically reducing the number of insects in the next generation. Repeated release can eventually wipe out a population of insects. A World Food Prize was awarded to Dr. Raymond Bushland and Dr. Edward Knipling for their development and use of this technique.

Nordion's role in Preventing the Spread of Zika Virus


Material Modification of Advanced Polymers
Microbial Reduction for Cannabis
Disinfection of Cosmetics
Material Modification of Gemstones
55 countries have approved the use of irradiation
200+ large scale irradiators in the world.
120 large-scale irradiators built by Nordion

*Source: History and future of food irradiation, Jozsef Farkas and Csilla Mohacsi-Farkas, 2011