We are, have always been, and intend to remain, a key part of the history and development of the global irradiation processing community!

Gamma irradiation processing began in Australia in 1959, with a plant designed to eliminate anthrax from carpet materials. This was closely followed, in 1960, by the world’s first full-scale gamma irradiation facility, the Package Irradiation Plant (PIP), operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, (UKAEA) at the Wantage Research Laboratory. The plant was soon mainly sterilizing disposable medical products.

In advance of opening the PIP, the need for a routine dosimetry system for this plant was anticipated. To enable the requirement to be satisfied, the response to radiation of various combinations of polymers and dyes was studied; and from these a particular dyed polymethylmethacrylate formulation, Red 400 Perspex, was selected to provide a material for routine dosimetry in this plant.

The dosimeters were produced at the main UKAEA research facility at Harwell. Harwell Dosimeters Ltd is a direct descendent of this pioneering development; and indeed the whole global irradiation processing industry developed from those early beginnings. Harwell Dosimeters, and its range of dosimeters, has evolved with the burgeoning of the irradiation processing industry and its ever changing requirements.

1960       The first Red 400 Perspex dosimeters were used in the PIP irradiation plant at Wantage Research Laboratory. Soon medical device manufacturers started buying Red Perspex Dosimeters from Harwell as they built and operated their own irradiation plants.

1964       Gamma sterilization of medical products began in North America.

1970       The formulation and concentration of the dyes used in Red Perspex Dosimeters was adjusted and standardised to provide optimum dosimeter performance. The modified formulation was designated Red 4034.

1970       To satisfy the requirements for measurements of lower radiation doses, Amber 3042 was offered for sale.

1985       The sachets which are a key component of Harwell Perspex dosimeters were upgraded by the introduction of a higher specification packaging material, a laminated foil selected after an exhaustive comparative study.

1986       UKAEA businesses were operated commercially, as a “trading fund”, using the name of AEA Technology.

1990       Gammachrome dosimeters, an even more sensitive product which reduced further the lower limit of the dose range covered by Perspex dosimeters, were added to the portfolio in response to the evolving requirements of the irradiation industry.

1995       The Quality Management System of Harwell Dosimeters was certified as satisfying the requirements of ISO 9001, the first dosimeter manufacturer to achieve this. The accreditation has been continuously maintained ever since.

1995       As AEA Technology was prepared for flotation, the dosimeter business was identified as “non core”, and sold to a medical product manufacturing group, within which it continued to operate as a separate company, Harwell Dosimeters Ltd.

1999       Harwell Dosimeters Ltd relocated within the Harwell campus, moving from 10 Becquerel Avenue into dedicated premises over the road at 540.

The roads on the Harwell campus are named after famous scientists. In our case we were honoured to be associated, through our address, with the Frenchman Henri Becquerel, who first observed that radiation changed the optical properties of plates contained in opaque envelopes some distance from the source, thus discovering radioactivity, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903.

2001       To improve the traceability of individual dosimeters, the sachets of Red 4034 dosimeters were uniquely labelled and bar-coded. The advance was soon extended to the other products.

2002       Alanine pellets were produced and sold for dosimetry over a wide range of doses, giving Harwell Dosimeters its first non-optical dosimeter.

2003       Alanine pellets were packaged in uniquely labelled and bar-coded aluminium foil blisters, creating RadSpin, a packaged alanine dosimeter for routine use.

2005       Harwell Dosimeters was acquired by a private investor.

2007       The small pieces of Perspex packaged as dosimeters are cut from large sheets, originally under contract. This cutting process was brought in house in 2007.

2008       Similarly, packaging was originally contracted out. In 2008 packaging equipment was purchased, and extra staff recruited to the team, bringing the total dosimeter manufacturing process “in house”.

2011       Following the retirement of Dr. Roger Bett, David Pymer joined the company in January 2011 as General Manager.

2012       Harwell Dosimeters Ltd employs its first dedicated Quality Manager.

2014       Harwell Dosimeters Ltd relocated to a purpose built facility 6 miles (10km) away.