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: Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

3 hours ago

Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks.

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

8 hours ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Recommended for you

Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

Nov 21, 2014

Astrobiologists have shown that the formation of RNA from prebiotic reactions may not be as problematic as scientists once thought.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.