Automated analyzer for complex nuclear waste provides rapid results

Mar 28, 2007

Identifying and quantifying specific alpha- and beta-emitting radionuclides in liquid solutions can be challenging and time consuming – typically taking from days to weeks to get results back from an analytical laboratory. But, when an industrial process-scale plant requires that an accurate, reliable analysis be completed in near real-time from samples retrieved directly from the process line, the challenge could be overwhelming.

However, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have assembled a robust, fully automated prototype process monitor to meet demanding production needs.

The device developed by PNNL scientists provides microwave-assisted sample pretreatment, flexible chemical separations capabilities, sensitive radiochemical detection, calibration and data analysis. PNNL presenter Matthew J. O’Hara said, "This is the most extreme example of automation ever demonstrated by our team."

The prototype system was originally created to perform rapid radiochemical analysis of technetium-99 in nuclear waste destined for vitrification at the Hanford Site’s Waste Treatment Plant in Washington state. Samples can be adjusted, separated and analyzed in less than 15 minutes to provide feedback on process performance.

While developed for specific radionuclides in high-level nuclear waste process streams, the analyzer is capable of being adapted for use on a wide range of applications requiring an integrated system that performs sample preparation, column separations, on-line detection and data analysis conducted rapidly and autonomously.

PNNL scientists Jay W. Grate and Matthew O’Hara will describe pioneering work in the development of automated radiochemical analysis systems, radionuclide sensors and process monitoring approaches in back-to-back presentations at the 233rd American Chemical Society Meeting in Chicago.

Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Explore further: Water leads to chemical that gunks up biofuels production

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ESA's cargo vessel ready for space delivery

Aug 12, 2014

ESA's latest Automated Transfer Vehicle is set to dock with the International Space Station on Tuesday, delivering more than six tonnes of crucial supplies and scientific experiments to the orbiting research ...

From eons to seconds, proteins exploit the same forces

Aug 12, 2014

(Phys.org) —Nature's artistic and engineering skills are evident in proteins, life's robust molecular machines. Scientists at Rice University have now employed their unique theories to show how the interplay ...

Recommended for you

Water leads to chemical that gunks up biofuels production

38 minutes ago

Trying to understand the chemistry that turns plant material into the same energy-rich gasoline and diesel we put in our vehicles, researchers have discovered that water in the conversion process helps form ...

Celebrating 100 years of crystallography

6 hours ago

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of a revolutionary technique that underpins much of modern science, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) magazine last week released a special edition on X-ray crystallography—its past, ...

Treating pain by blocking the 'chili-pepper receptor'

6 hours ago

Biting into a chili pepper causes a burning spiciness that is irresistible to some, but intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper's effect are using their findings to develop a new drug ...

Testing the shelf-life of nuclear reactors

7 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls and TerraPower based in Bellevue, Washington, have demonstrated the power of high-energy beams of ...

User comments : 0