The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) is a South African partner institution of the Bakeng se Afrika consortium. Necsa, located in the Pelindaba area, west from Pretoria, is a state-owned scientific research institute that undertakes radiation science research using penetrating radiation. Apart from its state obligations, Necsa also provides services to National and International Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) through post-graduate and applied research projects using the infrastructure at Necsa to contribute to the National System of Innovation.
Necsa is a national centre in the field of nuclear studies contributes to education in readiation and related sciences. This promotes the dissemination of applied radiation based knowledge and an understanding of what nuclear research can offer in the wider public sphere. Necsa’s scientists are actively involved in university training programs related to radiation and/or nuclear science at North West University (Potchefstroom) and at the University of Johannesburg.
Radiography and Tomography (RADTOM) Section
The RADTOM section, within the Radiation Science Department (R&D Division of Necsa) develops and uses techniques to optimize utilization of neutron and X-ray radiation, as non-destructive probes to investigate objects and materials for pure and applied research. RADTOM hosts several radiation beam line instrumentations. In 2011, through a National Research Fundation (NRF) initiative, a micro-focus X-ray tomography (micro-XCT) facility was installed, which is one of three of its kind available for general research in South Africa. Micro-XCT allows high-precision 2D radiography and 3D tomography renderings investigating samples in a non-destructive fashion that lead to the development of high-level research expertise. The direct and indirect (through users) research output is mostly in the form of research publications, Honours and MSc theses, PhD dissertations and research reports. The group renders expert instrument scientists support to researchers and students using the equipment and undertake new technique development to support users and to enlarge the application scope. Contract research and non-destructive analytical services are offered to industrial clients on a commercial basis.
In the past six years, more than 50% research applications from researchers and post graduate students at the Necsa micro-XCT facility were dedicated to Bioscience investigations. From 2011, a large volume of 3-dimensional scientific data were related to human skeletal material, which attracted researchers and post graduate students from the anatomical sciences, cultural heritage, bio-engineering and dentistry fields, indicating that the Necsa RADTOM facility is truly a unique national asset in South Africa. As up to 1TB of scientific data is being generated per week, data archiving actions became an important component of service rendered to the research community. Sustainability, as well as consistent support to the researchers, will be maintained thanks to a dedicated data server.