Radioactivity of Potassium Solutions: A Comparison of Calculated Activity to Measured Activity from Gross Beta Counting and Gamma Spectroscopy
Description: In order to determine if the measured beta activity for a solution containing potassium was exactly as predicted, particularly since the CES gas counter is not calibrated specifically with K-40, an experiment was conducted to compare measured activities from two radioanalytical methods (gamma spectroscopy and gas proportional counting) to calculated activities across a range of potassium concentrations. Potassium, being ubiquitous and naturally radioactive, is a well-known and common interference in gross beta counting methods. By measuring the observed beta activity due to K-40 in potassium-containing solutions across a wide range of concentrations, it was found that the observed beta activity agrees well with the beta activity calculated from the potassium concentration measured by standard inorganic analytical techniques, such as ICP-OES, and that using the measured potassium concentration to calculate the expected beta activity, and comparing this to the observed beta activity to determine if potassium can account for all the observed activity in a sample, is a valid technique. It was also observed that gamma spectroscopy is not an effective means of measuring K-40 activity below approximately 700 pCi/L, which corresponds to a solution with approximately 833 mg/L total potassium. Gas proportional counting for gross beta activity has a much lower detection limit, typically 20-50 picoCi/L for a liquid low in total dissolved solids, which corresponds to a potassium concentration of approximately 30-70 ppm K.
Date: July 26, 2005
Creator: Gaylord, R F
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