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RML Facilities

RML has advanced capabilities to undertake sampling in the marine environment, to prepare and to measure the relevant radioisotopes in the laboratories.

Alpha spectrometry

Overview of the alpha spectrometry systems at RML.

Alpha spectrometry is used to measure natural (polonium, uranium, thorium) and anthropogenic (plutonium, americium, neptunium) alpha emitters in marine samples (seawater, sediment and biota) and atmospheric samples (wet and dry fallout, atmospheric aerosols). The elements are first separated and purified chemically before being either electroplated or precipitated in order to detect the emitted alpha particles.

Radiochemical analysis prior to alpha counting

Seven EG&G Ortec systems are in operation currently in RML. Three systems host 16 alpha spectrometry chambers each (model n° 576), connected to an amplifier, a multichannel analyser and a multiplexer, Four systems are integrated Octete PC systems with 8 chambers each. The programmes used for spectrum analysis and data evaluation are Maestro and Alphavision (EG&G Ortec). A total of eighty silicon surface barrier detectors are available for measurements, giving the possibility to measure more than a thousand samples per year and to use long counting times when required. We routinely determine plutonium and americium analysis in seawater at the level of µBqs.