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NASA Uses Fortress Flame Resistant Lead-Free Radiation Shielding for High Energy Electron Gun in ICEE Laboratory

Posted by Mandy Bayman on

When faced with upgrading technology, NASA’s ICEE lab required radiation shielding to protect staff from the harmful effects of radiation exposure. responded with a custom shielding solution built to the client's specifications. 


The ICEE Laboratory, part of the NASA Ames Astrochemistry Laboratories Application, prepared to undergo a major renovation that included the installation of a high energy electron gun. The electron gun is housed in a chamber used for the investigation of the chemical evolution of PAHs that are condensed into water or argon ice. 

The data collected by NASA from this new, radiation shielded apparatus will provide information that will be incorporated into databases used for modeling astronomical infrared emission features from the James Webb Space Telescope and from NASA missions such as the Mars 2020 rover and the Europa Clipper. The primary goal of this work is to model the chemical evolution of irradiated organic compounds, utilizing the data for interpretation of NASA mission results. 


The use of the electron gun produces secondary x-rays, which requires the installation of shielding for safety. The x-ray shielding is necessary to protect the researchers during the use of the high energy electron gun on the ICEE chamber.  A total of 48 ft2 of ⅛” lead equivalent shielding is required, half to be rigid panels to be fastened to a frame around the apparatus and half to be flexible to allow shielding of higher intensity point source scatter from the apparatus. Shielding materials should be lead-free, to facilitate compliance with OSHA 1926.62 in preventing employee lead exposure during installation, modification and use of the shielding.  The shielding should also be flame-resistant, impact-resistant and easy to clean.


The Fortress line of shielding material from is a lead-free and flame-resistant shielding material that uses the radiation block qualities of tungsten and bismuth to safely shield as effectively as lead.


 Fortress radiation shielding NASA


This 1/8” lead equivalent, lead-free material is a broad spectrum shielding solution that is effective on low and high energies, a combination that helps optimize attenuation at the lower energies, providing a 99.97% reduction in radiation emissions. The Fortress materials are also OSHA compliant.

The two Fortress materials for this application were:

  • Rigid panels of flame resistant plastic (UL94 approved) encasing a bismuth/tungsten composite shielding. The laminated panels are easy to mount using mechanical fasteners. Fortress radiation shielding NASA
  • Flexible panels of flame resistant silicone impregnated with bismuth. This material can be wrapped around curved sections. Grommets can be added to hang the material. Fortress radiation shielding NASA


Additional benefits of the Fortress products include:

  • Handling Ease - Material can be cut and drilled without concern of lead exposure
  • Adaptable - Can be cut and hung or fastened anywhere using mechanical fasteners or grommets
  • Reduced Life Cycle Cost - Lead-free materials can be disposed of like ordinary waste without the costs of hazardous waste
  • Environmentally Friendly - Fortress materials are not hazardous to the environment or to humans
  • Flame-Resistant - Certain products in the Fortress line are flame resistant and self-extinguishing
  • OSHA & ROHS Compliant - Material is certified lead-free and OSHA and ROHS compliant
Shop Fortress Shielding


Our team has a combined 35 years experience in design of x-ray equipment and protective shielding.  We assist contractors, engineering companies and manufacturers in optimal design and fabrication of facilities and equipment to ensure proper protection from radiation with registrations and regulatory compliance on the federal and state levels. offers lead and lead-free materials for shielding. Find everything you need on our website, contact us by phone at +1 (832) 519-8787 or by email at

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