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Nuclear Density Testing – What Is It, Anyway?

By December 8, 2022No Comments2 min read

Simply put, a nuclear density gauge is a tool used to test the density of a compacted material. Most often utilized in highway or road construction projects, you will also see them in use on wind or solar power generation construction sites, residential and commercial construction sites, mining operations, and agricultural and forestry settings.

The nuclear density gauge (sometimes referred to as a “Troxler” after major manufacturer Troxler Electronic Laboratories) is comprised of a gamma radiation source (such as Cesium-137) about the size of a pebble at the end of a source rod, and Geiger Mueller tubes embedded in the base at the other end of the gauge. The source rod is lowered into the ground and, once released from its shielded housing, gives off just enough radiation to measure density. The Geiger Mueller tubes detect the gamma radiation that is emitted from the radiation source and passes through the material under the gauge. By calculating the percentage of particles that return to the sensor, the gauge can be calibrated to measure the density and inner structure of the test material.

Encorus personnel use nuclear density gauges primarily to determine the density of asphalt and soil. This test data is compared to design requirements and allows our technicians to tell the contractor if the asphalt or soil is compacted properly. Insufficient compaction can ultimately result in asphalt or soil failure and is especially important when preparing surfaces which will support structures, roadways, parking lots, and bridges.

Encorus Group’s certified nuclear density gauge operators work with contractors, construction companies, municipalities, and others to help ensure that their projects are safely completed. Look for them (safely!) in your travels during construction season here in Western New York.