A Suite of Robust Radioanalytical Techniques for the Determination of Tritium and Other Volatile Radionuclides in Decommissioning Wastes and Environmental Matrices
Fusion science and technology
Tritium is ubiquitous in and around nuclear plants, being formed via neutron capture by 2 H, 6 Li, 10 B and 14 N and via ternary fission. The highly mobile nature of 3 H species results in widespread distribution of the radionuclide. Predictive modelling of 3 H activity concentrations is challenging and direct measurement of 3 H activities in materials is the preferred approach to underpin waste and environmental assessments. For well over a decade, the UK nuclear industry has engaged in a
... ficant programme of site decommissioning of its first generation reactors. This has resulted in a high demand for the rapid characterisation of 3 H in a diverse range of matrices, including concretes, metals, plastics, sludges, resins, soils and biota. To support such assessments, it has been necessary to develop dedicated instrumentation in parallel with robust radioanalytical methodologies; namely a multi-tube furnace and a highcapacity, closed (pressurised) oxygen combustion system. Data are presented on the development and validation of these instruments, designed specifically to enable the quantitative extraction of 3 H (and other volatile radionuclides) from diverse sample types. Furthermore the furnace system has been employed as a tool to gain insights into the 3 H association in decommissioning and environmental matrices exposed to 3 H arising from nuclear power plant operations through tritium evolution with temperature profiling. The impact of the chemical speciation of 3 H on analytical strategy is discussed. A major benefit of the multi-sample furnace is its ease of use and applicability to 3 H determination in virtually any sample type. The complementary HBO 2 oxygen combustion system has been developed for the quantitative oxidation of organic-rich samples (e.g. wood, plastic, oil, biota) and analytical data prove its effectiveness.