Brian Jurczyk, Co-Founder and President/CEO, Starfire Industries LLCBrian Jurczyk, Co-Founder and President/CEO
Considered one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, particle accelerators have undoubtedly revolutionized the fields of science and manufacturing. Even today, particle accelerators— especially neutron generators—play a crucial role in the manufacturing industry for non-destructive inspection (NDI) and non-destructive testing (NDT) of components and products.

However, the utilization of particle accelerators for NDI and NDT requirements hasn’t been free of challenges for industrial clients. Owing to the large-scale hardware and extensive space requirements, most of the particle accelerators have been confined to research centers and universities. So, rather than investing in their own particle accelerators—which would entail very high capital and low ROI—the practice for the industrial clients has been to take their product samples to the research centers and pay for their temporary services. However, rising transportation costs combined with regulatory constraints and access to such large-scale particle accelerators—especially during a pandemic— is prompting many industrial clients to search for newer alternatives.

Coming to the aid of these industrial clients is Starfire Industries— an innovator that is taking particle accelerator technology to the next level. The company’s state-of-the-art portfolio of portable particle accelerators and neutron generators are not only solving the extensive space constraints for industrial clients but are also lowering the cost of implementation, transportation, and operation while ensuring better adherence to regulations and greater ROI for their NDI and NDT needs. “As our portable products can be easily transported between locations, the clients can easily leverage them for their inspection and testing needs at their desired locations, whether it is for product testing, elemental analysis, cargo inspection, radiography, downhole well inspection, and much more; the possibilities are endless,” says Brian Jurczyk, Co-Founder and President/CEO of Starfire Industries.

The Pinnacle of Engineering Excellence

At the heart of Starfire’s particle accelerator product portfolio is Centurion®—an easy-to-deploy, high-energy, high-intensity radio-frequency quadrupole (RFQ) ion accelerator. Unlike the conventional, large particle accelerators that require a dedicated facility with three-phase industrial power and cooling equipment, the ultra-compact Centurion® fits into work vans and through doors into existing structures, utilizes natural air cooling, and takes power from common wall sockets or portable power. Moreover, as the product saves engineering time, minimizes regulatory burden, and lowers the total cost, industrial clients can quickly make the switch to Centurion® for applications ranging from neutron interrogation to proton injection to isotope generation and nuclear analysis.

Equally impressive is nGen®, Starfire’s cutting-edge neutron generator with emission from grounded target, which is a clear step up from the conventional generators with its greater versatility and increased output. Extremely portable, the nGen® can be fitted in a small case and carried by no more than one person, before deploying at a preferred site for testing or inspecting samples. More notably, as nGen® leverages deuterium-deuterium (DD) or deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion reactions for neutron generation rather than a highly radioactive americium beryllium (AmBe) source, the radiation is also reduced significantly, making the testing and inspecting process considerably safer for users.

Such impressive capabilities have enabled many clients to simplify their processes, including neutron, thermal, cold, and fast radiography.

At the heart of Starfire’s particle accelerator product portfolio is Centurion®—an easy-to-deploy, high-energy, high-intensity radiofrequency quadrupole (RFQ) ion accelerator

“Complex industrial pipelines and tubing structures that once required inspection and testing through x-ray and gamma radiation sources, can now be analyzed quickly, seamlessly, and more accurately with our products,” states Jurczyk. Moreover, the neutron imaging facilitated by nGen® allows clients to accurately detect corrosion under insulation and precisely verify the integrity of welds, reinforced concrete, and more.

What’s more? Even if the clients have slightly different specification needs, Starfire can custom design Centurion® and nGen® as per their exact requirements, using its unique fabrication process based on additive manufacturing and high-power IMPULSE® magnetron sputter deposition capabilities.

Paving the Way Client Success

Empowered by the revolutionary particle accelerators introduced by Starfire, countless clients in the industrial realm have been able to revamp their business offerings. A perfect example would be Mount Sopris Instruments, a Colorado-based company that was leveraging the highly radioactive AmBe source for neutron generation in its instruments to analyze the integrity of wells and gather information regarding geological strata for mining, environmental and geotechnical analysis. The threat of losing a radiochemical source and contaminating a well, increased insurance and surety bond cost, plus added training, regulatory monitoring, security and handling costs, became too great a burden. That was when Mount Sopris decided to replace their AmBe neutron source with nGen® in their QL40 line of wireline tools. The result? Mount Sopris’ instruments began delivering superior performance at lower costs, freeing users from the ever-present harmful radioactive emission while offering easy and extensive equipment transport capabilities.

This is but one of the many success stories that Starfire Industries has penned over the years. The company’s products are also becoming quite popular for security applications, especially for detecting explosives and contraband in luggage and shipping containers at airports and seaports. Centurion® is also contributing to environmental safety and sustainability by enabling clients to accurately analyze groundwater samples and detect the presence of harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances fluorinated compounds. Thus, it is facilitating timely intervention and curbing serious environmental damage.

In the upcoming months, in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and Jacobs Engineering, an environmental assessment company, Starfire will continue its efforts in solving critical environmental challenges through its testing and inspection technology. In the same leg, Starfire will further diversify its product range to service underserved market segments, including medical, defense, consumer electronics, and so on. “Ultimately, our mission is to make testing and inspection easily accessible to every client, whether it is a startup, a university, or a Fortune 500 company, and contribute to their continued success in their respective domains,” concludes Jurczyk.