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March 14, 2022

Life-saving bubble detectors from Chalk River recognized by US Space Tech Hall of Fame

BTI Bubble Detector

Life-saving bubble detectors from Chalk River recognized by US Space Tech Hall of Fame

By Sarah MacFarlane, Ottawa Business Journal, March 7, 2022

Chalk River’s Bubble Technology Industries (BTI) has been inducted into the US Space Technology Hall of Fame for a unique technology used to detect radiation and explosives for more than three decades.

The “bubble detector” produced by BTI is designed to detect harmful radiation and protect both astronauts in space and people on Earth from the risks of exposure to radiation.

The honour follows the bubble detector’s use in over two dozen space missions through the Canadian Space Agency, assessing radiation risks in outer space, as well as the use of thousands of detectors here on Earth.

Earth-side, the detectors have been used to monitor radiation in hospitals, nuclear power plants, manufacturing facilities and nuclear-powered submarines. 

Since its invention in the early 1980s, the detector has protected emergency responders in 1986 at the Chernobyl site in Ukraine and in 2011 at the Fukushima site in Japan. 

Packed into an unassuming canister, the life-saving technology is made of tiny droplets of superheated liquid in a clear polymer. Upon contact with a neutron, the droplet vaporizes, forming a visible gas bubble, and provides a measurement of the neutron dose.

Dr. Harry Ing, founder and president of BTI and the inventor of the bubble detector, said in a press release, “It’s a real honour to be recognized for the impact we’ve had after so many years in this field.”

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