Mercury Plastics - Custom Profile Extruders
History of Mercury Plastics - for plastic extrusions, plastic profiles, and custom profile extruders

What is Irradiation / Electron Beam Cross-Linking?

The electron beam accelerator at the NEO Beam Facility in Ohio, owned and operated by Mercury Plastics, Inc.

Electron Beam Accelerator

Irradiation refers to the process of cross-linking materials using an electron beam. During the irradiation process, the material is bombarded with accelerated electrons with high energy levels. When these electrons hit the product they start to interact with the material, creating new chemical bonds. The electrons break the weaker carbon-to-hydrogen bonds and facilitate the formation of strong carbon-to-carbon bonds. This alters the molecular structure of a material and changes a thermoplastic to a thermoset. Before cross-linking, the molecules in a material are free to move around and therefore the finished product is weaker and more susceptible to heat and chemicals. Once a product is cross-linked, a majority of the molecules become cross-linked which results in more stable bonds giving the finished product improved physical characteristics.

Cross-linking improves the following characteristics in many materials:

  • Long-term physical characteristics
  • Flexibility
  • Kink resistance
  • Creep resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Heat resistance
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Taste and odor performance in water tubes

Our NEO Beam facility is completely safe and has been constructed keeping various safety factors in mind. Electron beam technology neither produces nor stores any radiation in the target materials or products once they are outside of the e-beam. The electron beam itself is surrounded by 8-foot thick concrete walls which prevent any radiation from leaving the chamber. The Ohio Department of Health audits the facility regularly to ensure compliance.