Ultrahigh Sensitivity Heavy Noble Gas Detectors for Long-Term Monitoring and for Monitoring Air Page: 1 of 3
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Ultrahigh Sensitivity Heavy Noble Gas Detectors for Long-Term
Monitoring and for Monitoring Air
DOE Award No. DE-FG07-99ER62758
PI: Dr. John D. Valentine
Georgia Institute of Technology
Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Program
Atlanta, GA 30332-0405
The primary objective of this research project is to develop heavy noble gas (krypton, xenon, and
radon) detectors for 1) long-term monitoring of transuranic waste, spent fuel, and other uranium and
thorium bearing wastes and 2) alpha particle air monitors that discriminate between radon emissions and
other alpha emitters. A University of Cincinnati/Argonne National Laboratory (UC/ANL) Team was
assembled to complete this detector development project. Effective 1/4/99, the UC PI (John Valentine)
became an Associate Professor in the Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Program of the George W.
Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Consequently, this
project was transferred to Georgia Tech (GT) with the PI. UC funding extended to 1/31/99 and GT
funding became active 4/26/99. Since a previous Annual Report (submitted 7/2/99) summarized all of the
achievements that were made at UC, this Annual Report will focus on work conducted at GT since
4/26/99 by the GT/ANL Team. DOE needs that are addressed by this project include improved long-
term monitoring capability and improved air monitoring capability during remedial activities. Successful
development and implementation of the proposed detection systems could significantly improve current
capabilities with relatively simple and inexpensive equipment.
Research Progress and Implications
As of December 31, 1999, the GT/ANL Team has: 1) made significant progress toward
characterizing the fluid transfer process which is the basis for this detector development project and 2)
evaluated several radiation detectors and several potential pulse processing schemes.
ANL first developed the fluid transfer process through which heavy noble gases in the atmosphere
are preferentially absorbed by certain organic fluids and can subsequently be degassed by adding a small
amount of energy. It is this fluid transfer process that allows the heavy noble gases to be concentrated for
enhanced detection. Due to ANL's extensive experience in characterizing this process, this part of the
Team is continuing to take the lead in this area. Note, corn oil was used most extensively in this project at
UC, however we have switched to 3-in-1 oil at GT due to its superior viscosity and because it does not
polymerize with use as corn oil was observed to do. To further establish the characteristics of 3-in-1 oil
for use in fluid transfer systems and to establish quantitative links between previous corn oil experiments
and 3-in-1 oil experiments, a GT graduate student spent the Summer at ANL conducting pressure drop
tests and sonication studies. Results indicated that 3-in-1 oil undergoes a smaller pressure drop than than
corn oil when passing through one of the prototype absorption columns. Consequently, higher flow rates
can be used and thus more air can be processed using 3-in-1 oil. This will undoubtedly be advantageous
when scaling the prototype systems up to a fieldable system. As far as the sonication studies with 3-in-1
oil were concerned, the results were somewhat ambiguous. Nonetheless, results clearly indicated that
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Valentine, John D. Ultrahigh Sensitivity Heavy Noble Gas Detectors for Long-Term Monitoring and for Monitoring Air, report, June 1, 2000; Atlanta, Georgia. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc787896/m1/1/: accessed March 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.