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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using neutrons to fight forest fires


The University of California McClellan Nuclear Radiation Center was originally developed by the U.S. Air Force as a nondestructive testing tool to detect moisture and corrosion in large honeycomb filled surfaces of aircraft. MNRC was transferred to UCD in February of 2000 as part of the closure process of McClellan Force Base. UCD MNRC has a firm base of research and industrial partnerships. The United States Forest Service contracted Dyncorp Inc. to upgrade and perform safety checks fire fighting systems carried aboard Air National Guard C-130 aircraft. These fire fighting systems, "Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems", MAFFS, were fabricated in the early to mid 70’s. The tanks, tubing, and fittings that make up these systems are made of aluminum. They have been exposed to various fire retardant formulas. Following use, the systems are flushed with water and air dried. The result of these caustic and corrosive cycles was not known. Working through UC Davis' office of Technology Industry Alliances, Dyncorp turned to the neutron radiography facility at UC Davis' McClellan Nuclear Radiation Center to determine the effect of these cycles. The U.S. Forest Service, UC Davis and Dyncorp are partners in the Center of Excellence for Aircraft Health Management. Other partners include NASA Ames Research Center, Aerobotics Inc., Hill Engineering LLC and Eclypse International.

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