The Use of Radioactive Tracer Technology to Measure Real-Time Wear in Engines and Other Mechanical Systems
Radioactive tracer technology (RATT™) is an important tool for measuring real-time wear in operating engines and other mechanical systems. The use of this technology provides important wear information that is not available by other, more conventional wear measurement methods. The technology has advanced to the point where several components can be interrogated simultaneously, and new methods have extended the method to materials that are normally not amenable to radioactive tracer evaluation. In addition, sensitivity has increased so that the onset of wear can be detected long before practical with non-tracer methods. This improves the ability to measure and determine cause and effect relationships, thus providing a better understanding of wear responses to specific operating conditions and to changes in operating conditions. This paper reviews the radioactive tracer process and recent improvements that have extended its reach in both automotive and non-automotive applications.