Modernization of a gamma sterilization facility
1ICTA, Framatome GmbH, Erlangen, Germany
Worldwide 200 gamma irradiators are currently in operation and the demand for sterile products is continuously growing by 4 – 5% per year. This demand will meet the licensed capacity in 5 to 6 years. However, the capacity of the irradiation facilities is limited. Due to the advanced plant age, the availability of the facilities is additionally limited due to the growing maintenance need for automation and conveyor technology, technological obsolescence and decreasing spare part supply.
Innovative methods for more precise dose rate calculation and innovative technologies for a higher processing flexibility and faster process times are presented. By precisely recalculating the dose distribution, the source loading is optimized, whereby a higher dose rate and shorter irradiation periods are achieved. And a new robust conveyor system allows the processing of mixed goods for faster and more efficient processing and higher capacity. These upgrades contribute to an economic and safe system operation in the long term.
The benefits are shown on the basis of a modernization project performed for the BBF Sterilization Facility located in Kernen (Baden-Wuerttemberg), Germany. This plant started commercial operation in 1969 for the sterilization of medical technology, pharmaceutical products and cosmetics. This project demonstrates how upgrades of the automation systems, conveyor system and radioprotection calculations go hand in hand for a successful long-term operation of gamma irradiation facilities.