Lead-Free Plastics to Help with X-Ray Shielding

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Lead has commonly been used in x-ray devices to limit the amount of radiation exposure for patients and operators. This low-cost and high-gravity compound is among the most effective shields, but we also need to remember that its toxicity makes it very difficult and dangerous to handle.

The Need for a Change

Lead poisoning cases came into the spotlight after the Flint fiasco, and the world soon realized that it needed a substitute for lead, as quickly as possible. A number of governments are also moving away from the use of lead. The EU RoHS directive restricts the use of solders made out of lead in electronics. Medical devices are currently exempted from this list, but only because viable alternate solutions are yet to be available in commercial applications.

Investigating Replacements

A number of high gravity compounds such as tungsten and tungsten alloys are currently being researched. High density plastics have truly begun to take over a number of industries and applications, and it is believed that with additional research, they might even have lead’s manufacturability and convenience. LNP Thermocomp HSG PH1100B, a thermoplastic composite material is currently being projected as that alternative. This compound is believed to offer effective X-ray shielding capabilities and it can also be injection melded into complex designs easily.

LNP Thermocomp HSG PH1100B Vs Lead

Researchers conducted several tests to compare the material to lead in an x-ray shield. Results show that at an equivalent thickness, the HSG PH1100B performed the same, or better, than lead at different voltages. A specific gravity of 11, however, causes high viscosity in the HSG PH1100B when compared to other high density materials used in injection melding applications.

Managing the Viscosity

Researchers recommended the following guidelines to help manufacturers process and manufacture the material.

1. Mold simulations could be inconsistent as the HSG material has special formulations. Therefore, it is essential for an experienced engineer to review the designs. Apart from using standard tool-making practices, standard tool steels can also be chosen for glass fibber applications in order to extend the tool life. Designers also need to use basic plastic-design principles considering anisotropic material properties.

2. Pin gates are recommended to be avoided as they can cause material separation during the first-stage injection. Fans and edge gates offer much better alternatives as they produce lower peak pressure, and this can lead to better aesthetics and over all properties. This also causes lesser shear heating, thereby reducing the chances of separation of the resin and the filler.

3. The wall thickness is recommended to be 3 mm at a minimum. Gate design, vent depth and runner lengths also need special attention to boost performance.

Vast advancements improvements in the field of high density materials and thermoplastic composite materials can encourage designers around the world to choose injection melding solutions in all kinds of applications, including x-ray shielding. The HSG material has already shown that it can offer the same benefits of lead, yet avoid the risks and extra machining that is typically involved while using lead.

With the help of these materials, it is entirely possible for manufacturers around the world to come up with new technologies and better equipment. It might be early days in the x-ray shielding department, but the results do look incredibly promising!

Reducing Noisemakers from Your Bow for a Better Hunting Experience

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Eliminating noise and reducing footprint is extremely essential for bow hunters. We use the quietest hunting clothes to reduce noise and choose scent control products to hide our scent. But what about the bow itself? While most modern-day bows come with vibration dampening mechanisms, there are so many things you can do to make your bow as silent as possible.

Reduce Creaks

Regular use forces the bow to undergo intense amounts of pressure, and this can cause some of the components to shift and creak while taking a shot. Limb pockets are often found to be culprits of giving away your presence after a long season of being dragged through the dirt and set down repeatedly. If you’re experiencing similar sounds or creak, your bow needs to be placed in a press to remove tension from its limbs. Applying grease to the bearings and limb rockers can also work wonders.

Use Rubber String Dampeners

Strings are one of the main sources of vibration and one of the most effective focus areas for vibration dampening. When the string is released, stored energy from the cams and limbs are transferred to the string, propelling the arrow forward. The remaining energy is sent back to the string in the form of sound and vibration. Using a rubber string dampener reduces the amount of time the vibration or sound lasts, while reducing the volume of the shot as well. Adding dampeners to cables can further reduce noise without causing a reduction in overall speed.

Tighten Screws

Another commonly overlooked area is the screw. Bows use a number of screws and these screws begin to lighten their hold, causing creaks when the bow is in use. Remember to check string stops, cable rods, cams and limb pockets and tighten any loose screws.

Use Limb Dampeners

It’s common for the limb to make some noise as it is one of the key factors responsible for your bow’s energy. The parallel limb bow led to a huge drop in the sound being produced during a shot, but vibration dampening materials can also be placed on the limb itself or between limbs (depending on the type of bow) to reduce and eliminate noise.

Work on Your Accessories

Sights, quivers, rests – just about everything can cause noise. When your bow’s making unusual clunking noises, the first thing you should check is whether your accessories are fitted properly. In most cases, a loose accessory is usually the culprit behind that unusual noise. The simplest way to catch the noisemaker is to remove one accessory at a time and shoot the bow to determine the problem maker.

When the bow is at full draw, the increased pressure causes flex, which makes the accessories shift on the bow, thereby causing noise. Always make sure you look for areas where a metal comes in contact with another metal and apply a layer of athletic tape to work as a vibration dampening material. Some of the most common areas you need to look at include stabilizers, rest, sight and quiver mount.

Once you’re used vibration dampening materials to reduce noise as much as possible, it’s time to visit the range to practice your shot. Remember, it is impossible to eliminate certain sounds. Moreover, the bow also sounds louder to the shooter. To truly determine the amount of noise your bow is making, have someone shoot your bow, while you stand on the side, determining just how much of a difference your actions made. Remember, every action that reduces or limits unwanted sounds or vibrations can present a more successful and consistent hunting experience.

Want to Reach Mars? Deal with Radiation First

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For the first time in history, human exploration of Mars has been declared of NASA’s official goal. President Trump even signed a bill to increase the space agency’s spending budget to $19.5 billion for a 12 month period starting October 1, 2017. For years, NASA inspired millions to imagine a better future on planet worth and civilizations in distant worlds, and it might just be time to work on making that dream a reality.

Colonizing Space

NASA hopes to send people to Mars by the 2030s as it continues to work with private companies to come up with new technologies that can help with this goal. The Elon Musk owned SpaceX has plans of its own to get to the red planet, and his company is planning to send an unmanned spaceship to Mars as early as 2018.

Can it be Done?

One of the biggest hindrances to the Mars program has been the issue of radiation. Present day radiation shielding materials aren’t capable of securing a trip to Mars. Moreover, the entire spacecraft needs to be built with materials that can protect the body from the effects of radiation as exposure could cause cancer, and even death.

Let’s take the example of earth. It would take several meters of thick concrete or lead to keep the body safe from a nuclear disaster. And having to fall back on lead, one of the most dangerous metals that the human body can be exposed to, is saying something. It’s pretty much the same in deep space.

Since the thin atmosphere of Mars won’t be able to offer protection to people who live there, offering lead free shielding and radiation shielding materials is one of the most critical aspects of colonizing space.

Working on a Solution

Experts have been working on several radiation shielding methods to protect astronauts in deep space. One of the proposed solutions is to wear the AstroRad Radiation Shield, a vest designed to offer the best possible radiation protection in deep space or in the event of a nuclear disaster. The vest protects vital human tissue and stem cells from radiation and might get its first test in 2018 when the Orian spacecraft makes its test journey to the moon.

Based on simulations, it is expected that the vest shall offer the same protection as a “shielded safe room” in the Orion. The vest has many small cells that are grouped together so that the device resembles a honeycomb. It is also known to be incredibly lightweight and flexible.

Other Proposals

NASA has also been exploring other radiation shielding material concepts. One idea proposes to build a storm shelter inside the floor of the Orion spacecraft. Astronauts can hide in this shelter in the event of a solar flare, sudden bursts of energy from the sun’s surface. The agency is also working on drugs to work like antioxidants and fight the effects of radiation. The medicine could even work in reversing effects of radiation exposure from flares.

Finding the right radiation shielding materials might take some time and research, but Mission Mars now looks like a future reality, not a distant dream.

Lead is Back in America’s Federal Wetlands

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The use of lead bullets for waterfowl hunting on federal wetlands was banned by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the year 1991. Lead bullets were also banned on lands within the range of Californian condors in the year 2008. On January 19, 2017, the Obama administration extended the 1991 ban to account for all hunting on all federal wildlife refuges, national parks and lands.

The problem isn’t with the lead bullet itself. It occurs when hunters clean the animal and leave its remains, including the expended lead bullet, on the field. The problem occurs when a shot animal escapes the hunter and dies later. Birds and scavengers then feed on these remains, and often end up eating parts of the lead bullets. Once ingested, the lead hinders their ability to fly, causes starvation and blindness and also leads to seizures and death.

In a complete turn of events, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke rescinded the order as one of his first acts after taking office. Jamie Rappaport Clarke, the CEO of Defenders of Wildlife states that the use of lead ammunition in an age when alternate measures such as lead free ammunition and frangible projectiles are readily available is unacceptable. “We know the incredible harm that lead poses to people and to wildlife,” says Clarke.

Secretary Zinke argues that the law was a step banning hunting on public lands. “It worries me to think about hunting and fishing becoming activities for the land-owning elite,” says Zinke.

Whether or not hunting and fishing are becoming activities for the elite, we do know that the lead bullets that are used by hunters to hunt deer can find its way into venison. So can anyone guess what’s going to be served on dinner plates soon?

It’s never too late though. Some might believe that rescinding the ban was the right thing to do, but common sense dictates that we get rid of lead as soon as possible. With alternatives such as frangible projectiles and lead free ammunition readily available, it seems unimaginable that hunters would make their families and their beloved hunting environment go through the dangers that lead poses.

Activities like hunting and fishing hold a special place in America’s heart, and it is our responsibility to make sure that they’re available for future generations to come. And while the environment around us is already suffering from the dangers of lead poisoning, it still isn’t too late, provided we act now as a society and do something about this issue that affects our children and their future once and for all.

Lead Poisoning Becomes Worse in America

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We’ve recently become conscious about lead and have actually made an effort to look at lead replacements and clean up lead from our streets and pipelines. We’ve long known that lead poisoning is a serious issue among America’s children. We’ve worked on the issue, and thought that we’re comfortably moving towards a better future.

Lead in Numbers

Unfortunately, it seems that the case of lead poisoning is even worse than before. According to researchers from the California Environmental Health Tracking Program, the number of children with high levels of lead in their blood was 1.2 million as of 1999-2010. And since testing rates have declined after 2000 and kids who aren’t tested don’t get reported to the CDC, this number is likely to be much higher today.

Researchers state that about 11 states, including Florida and Arizona, aren’t testing more than 80% of their children for lead poisoning. About 40 to 60% of the children in 28 other states aren’t tested for lead poisoning either. And this is not even counting the 12 states who don’t share their data with the CDC.

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The numbers are quite alarming to pose a serious health concern. How is it that so many children aren’t being tested for lead poisoning? How is it that lead replacement strategies aren’t as effective as we’d want them to be? Since testing for lead isn’t required in the country, doctors usually miss children with high levels of lead in their blood. Many cases go undetected and countless children don’t get the treatment they really need.

Lead Isn’t Safe

No level of lead is safe. Studies show that minute concentrations of 2 micrograms per decilitre are enough to lower a child’s IQ. Once this level reaches 5 micrograms, children can also suffer from serious mental and neurological damage. The CDC found that as many as 0.5 million kids had elevated levels of 5 micrograms or higher in the year 2014. These kids accounted for 4.2 percent of the total number of kids tested at the time.

However, according to Eric Roberts, the lead author of a paper published in the Paediatrics Journal, this number isn’t consistent or complete. To calculate the number of cases that might have gone unreported, Roberts and his team used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the CDC. They combined this data with the census data on poverty, race, housing and other risk factors of lead exposure.

When the results were compared to CDC’s reported cases, it was found that more than 600,000 children with lead levels of more than 10 micrograms weren’t counted in CDC’s reporting. “People talk about the great public health victory over lead, which is true, but I think it kind of blinded us,” says Roberts.

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How Did Things Go from Bad to Worse?

One of the biggest hindrances to fighting lead poisoning is that it isn’t legally required to test kids for lead in the US. In New Mexico, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Nevada, only one out of 10 kids were treated for lead poisoning. Studies also focus on lead poisoning cases from houses built before 1950, but this has been inconsistent as well. Most of these houses can be found in the Midwest and Northeast regions, but Roberts says that the greatest number of lead poisoning cases can actually be found down South. The West isn’t doing great either.

America’s deteriorating infrastructure also poses a serious problem. Unlike Flint, water isn’t a huge problem in most states. The pipes are the main culprits. Prior to 1980, most drinking water systems used lead service lines, and as many as 6 million lead pipes are still in operation. That’s at least 10 million American households!

The Solution

Using lead substitutes to overhaul the drinking water system could cost as much as $1 trillion over the next 25 years. However, if an investment is not made now, we continue to risk poisoning children and ignore kids with high levels of lead in their blood. As seen in Flint, grassroots activism and advocating testing of lead is one of the only ways of throwing lead poisoning into the national spotlight.

Sure the fiasco was the worst infrastructure disaster the country has seen in decades. But it also showed us that homes and water systems across the country are at risk, and the issue is far worse than most suspected.

World’s First 24-ft Carbon Fiber Composite Stinger Unveiled by Manitowoc

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Standing tall at 24 feet long, 13 inch high and 8.7 feet wide, Manitowoc’s new carbon fiber composite stinger is an absolute beast. It mounts the same way as the commonly used steel version, but it truly packs a punch, for it offers the same 8600-lb maximum capacity while presenting a greater degree of flexibility, a more efficient design and a better lifting experience. Manitowoc unveiled the machine at the ConExpo-Con/Agg show in Vegas last month, and is expecting to offer the option in its Grove 700 Series TMS cranes and Grove TMS9000-2 cranes by the fourth quarter of this year.

Dr. Sammy Munuswamy, a senior principal engineer of the composite stinger project, says that the stinger “captures the power of light.” The modern-day world demands lighter and more efficient cranes that are able to get from one place to the other with ease, and that’s where high density materials come into the picture. According to Munuswamy, “the use of a carbon fiber stinger helps with both and we (Manitowoc) now offer a lighter crane component without compromising structural performance.”

The composite stinger is manufactured using composite materials which add stiffness and strength to the stinger, but still allows it to be 35% lighter than its steel counterpart. If combined with a synthetic fiber rope, the crane can be lightened dramatically. Weight has always been important for crane design, and it becomes even more essential for mobile units such as the taxi crane that are expected to transport themselves as self-contained units.

The ends of the composite stinger have the same steel components that are currently used in the existing steel version. “We wanted to retain proven sheaves and shafts of the steel stinger so that users will be able to leverage their existing mounting procedures,” says Munuswamy. The stinger also mounts the same way as the steel version. It swings out front and stows at the side of the lattice before pinning itself into a workable position. The mounting and stowing processes can easily be managed by a single operator.

The final Manitowoc prototype was tested for stability, function, structural integrity, resistance to deflection, stiffness and other key criteria. The Manitowoc team also put it through numerous cycles on a test bench to ensure that the strength and fatigue life met industry expectations. The end result is a stinger that is easier to handle, far more efficient, incredibly helpful when it comes to projection edges, lighter and stronger. The use of high density materials also allows the stinger to boast of a better reach, load capacity and tip height.

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One of the biggest advantages of composite materials such as carbon fiber is that the fiber allows greater control over the amount of material, which means that it can be added wherever it is needed the most, thereby allowing the creation of a structure that is efficient and strong. In contrast, steel is used in standard plate sizes, which means that extra material is added. Other key features include vibration dampening materials to reduce noise and vibration and resistance to rust.

The global economy in the 21st century is driven by experiences and products that offer an emotional connect to the consumer are likely to dominate their respective markets. It’s no longer about being the longest, strongest or toughest. It’s about being the best while being the easiest and cheapest to work with.

Too Expensive to Get Rid of Lead Ammunition, Say Hunters

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The outgoing administration passed a last-minute directive, one that has been welcomed by conversation and wildlife experts the world over. America’s bald eagle problem seemed to be increasing with every passing day and the Obama administration seemed to have tackled the issue head on before passing the reigns of the government to Trump. The directive banned the use of lead fishing sinkers and ammunition on federal land in order to protect the wildlife from the effects of lead poisoning. Environmental groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland have been advocating the ban of lead and the use of lead free ammunition for years.

Just recently a Pennsylvania Game Commission officer brought a bald eagle to the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in northeastern Pennsylvania. While the center commonly sees birds being brought in after a run-in with vehicles, this particular case seemed to stand out. “Sometimes you just get a gut feeling with these birds, and our gut said this was lead poisoning,” said Susan Gallagher, Chief Naturalist at the center, pointing to lime-green diarrhea and other classic symptoms.

Eagles and other scavenger birds commonly scavenge remains left behind by hunters, and this often includes lead ammunition. Fragments from expended ammunition enter their bodies, thereby exposing them to the dangers of lead. According to Gallagher, these birds always look like they don’t feel well. They seem disoriented and come in with their hackles up and heads down.

The ban will make hunting more expensive due to the need to resort to green ammo, believes Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Bald eagle populations are at record levels,” says Keane. “There’s no reason to ban traditional ammo unless there’s evidence of a population impact.” While the case might hold true for eagles, the population levels of most other forms of wildlife, including the endangered condors, is also affected by lead.

“Waterfowl hunters have been successful using lead-free ammunition nationwide for decades, ever since lead shot was phased out in 1991,” counters environmental health legal director, Jonathan Evans. He believes the Obama directive to be a great start, but hopes that common sense prevails and the 1991 ban extends to all fishing gear and ammunition on all public lands.

States have also been busy introducing lead-reduction programs. California has the most bans on lead ammunition, while Arizona has experimented with the voluntary approach, offering green ammo such as copper bullets to its hunters. Though President Trump has promised to undo many of Obama’s regulations, he hasn’t addressed this particular issue yet. If the directive survives, state-level programs shall continue to be implemented over the years.

Susan Gallagher has an even more unique solution to the problem. She believes that hunters don’t need a ban to change to lead-free ammunition. They only need to spend some time with a bald eagle that has been poisoned by lead. “Had you seen this bird suffer and go through what it went through and then walked into a sporting goods store, absolutely, you’d make that choice,” said Gallagher.

At a time when lead poisoning cases are at a record high and the Flint fiasco still fresh in our memories, it’s no longer a case of what’s right. It’s imperative to move away from lead and switch to green ammo, to save the environment for our kids, and ensure that they enjoy the same joys from hunting as we did in our lives. It’s about taking action before it is too late.

New Vest Proves to Be Lighter, Safer and More Effective than Conventional X-Ray Shields

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Healthcare clinics and hospitals are full of tools and equipment that emit radiation. The modern-day x-ray is a boon to mankind, but it is also quite dangerous for the workers who work around radiation day in and day out. While there are adequate radiation and x-ray shielding policies in place, it’s easy to fall into a routine and become careless. High levels of stress, countless emergencies and innumerable life and death situations don’t help either.

Lead has traditionally been used in radiation shieldingmaterials, but it poses health problems and concerns of its own. And if anything, the Flint fiasco just showed us why we cannot afford to be careless when it comes to the dangers posed by lead.

A group of Polytechnic University researchers has now come up with a possible solution that certainly offers great benefits to all those involved in healthcare, presenting a solution that’s not only easy to wear and maintain, but more flexible and economical as well. The team combined polyurethane and tungsten polymer to create a shield that offers 40% more protection from x-rays. Apart from offering enhanced levels of radiation shielding, this garment is also known to be safer and 22% lighter than conventional shields.

Professor John XinHaozhong talks about the inspiration behind creating this protective gear. He discusses the Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011, touted as the largest disaster after Chernobyl, and states that the presence of nuclear plants close to Hong Kong made it essential to come up with better radiation shielding materials in order to protect people from radiation poisoning.

Researchers used new technologies to transform tungsten polymer into tiny particles and then mix it with polyurethane to create a brand new garment. Since polyurethane is extremely elastic, the vest even manages to offer protection despite being folded. Better yet, this vest only needs to be checked once every three years, making the annual testing of lead vests redundant, and leading to huge savings in radiation shielding budgets.

Fei Bin, an associate professor at the Polytechnic University Institute of Textiles and Clothing, discusses the benefits of this newly created shield. “The material is non-toxic and can be recycled and processed into protective clothing.”

Experts believe that this vest could not only work wonders in protecting patients needing x-rays, but also shield workers working in radiology departments around the world from the dangers of radiation. Commercial opportunities are still being explored though, and the first batch is expected to hit the markets within 6 – 12 months, should a company show interest in producing the vest commercially.

Federal Case Brings Funding to Flint

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Lead has been a serious problem for modern-day society. Our hectic lifestyles and the fact that the effects of lead poisoning cannot be seen or felt immediately meant that we kept sweeping the issue under the carpet, but the Flint fiasco gave lead poisoning the attention it deserves the world over. However, while communities and states around the country finally began discussing lead substitute, the people of Flint were still suffering from countless horrors that lead poisoned waters brought into their daily lives.

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Flint’s problems might finally be dwindling as residents finally receive timelines on getting their lead pipes replaced thanks to a settlement agreement approved by a federal judge on March 28, 2017. According to the terms of the settlement, the City of Flint and the State of Michigan are required to offer lead alternatives to the city’s poisonous pipes within a period of three years.

The lawsuit was filed as a result of failed decisions that affected thousands of families in the city, allowing lead to seep out of aging pipes and enter countless homes in the city. Dimple Chaudhary, the lead counsel in Concerned Pastors for Social Action Vs. Khouri, believes that this decision should finally result in safe water for the city and its residents. “The people of Flint are owed at least this much,” said Chaudhary after an enforceable commitment was directed by the court to remove lead pipes from the ground and offer adequate lead substitutes.

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According to the terms of the agreement, the State of Michigan shall provide $97 million to the city of Flint for lead replacement to replace its lead service lines within three years. The State must also create a door-to-door filter installation and education program, make bottled water available for the city’s residents and continue to monitor tap water for lead.

The court also directed the State to ensure adequate funding for the seven existing health programs to reduce and diminish the effects of exposure to lead. The court also retained authority to ensure that the City and State fulfill their obligations and meet given deadlines.

Pastor Allen Overton from the Concerned Pastors for Social Action says that they brought the lawsuit in front of the federal court to heal the damage caused to the community and to help the citizens get access to lead replacements. Resolving this crisis is one of the first things that the city needs to do in order to thrive again, and this resolution shouldgo a long way in making things easier for the people.

For more than three years, the case of lead poisoning affected all facets of society in Flint and people as forced to live on bottled water and without adequate baths due to the poisoned water flowing out of the city’s taps. After a long ordeal, Flint and its residents finally have a long-term solution to look forward to, as they try to recover from the disaster that wrecked the city and return to leading normal lives.

Asteroid Clay is a Better Space Radiation Shield than Aluminium

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Space travel Two words that make most of us jump up with joy. Turns out Star Trek and Stargate fans might only have to wait a few decades before they can start thinking about traveling to distant ‘lands’. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to space travel is radiation poisoning, and protecting the human body in outer space for long periods of time seems to be impossible at this moment. Researchers, however, are trying to change that by researching new Radiation shielding materials.

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And as it turns out, those massive asteroids floating through space could end up being the very things that save the human body during space travel. Researchers now believe that the clay extracted from these asteroids could be used to shield astronauts from celestial radiation during deep space missions.

Cosmic radiation is one of the biggest risks associated with traveling into space for extended periods of time, and one of the biggest hindrances to outlandish projects such as a journey to Mars or settlements on the moon. Studies even suggested that without access to radiation shielding, explorers would get exposed to a lifetime’s dose of radiation on a single trip to Mars.

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According to Daniel Britt from the University of Central Florida, aluminum shields are currently used to protect astronauts from radiation during short missions, but these shields would be too expensive for a longer journey. To spend more time on the moon or to really make a trip to Mars possible, we need to use materials found in space, says Britt.

Paul Van Susante from Michigan Technological University confirms Britt’s theory. “Eventually everything should be able to be produced off Earth if any serious size outpost, base or colony is to be considered.”

Experts believe that the asteroids commonly found in outer space could now be the answer to our search for radiation shielding materials. The clay found in these asteroids is rich in hydrogen, making it one of the most effective shielding materials available. Britt and his fellow researchers also discovered that this clay is about 10% more effective in stopping high-energy charged particles emitted by the sun and other cosmic bodies when compared to aluminum.

The technology to mine this clay under zero gravity situations still doesn’t exist, but researchers are optimistic that we should come up with solutions to such problems soon. One of the proposed solutions is to separate the clay using massive magnets.

We’ll simply have to wait for the right radiation shielding materials to come around, be rest assured that space travel is no longer a dream, but a distant reality.