Environmental Radiochemistry Project Funded

Gareth Law (School of Chemistry; project lead) and co-investigators  (Francis Livens – Chemistry; Ian Lyon and Kath Morris – School of Earth Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences; and Fred Mosselmans - Diamond Light Source) have recently had a research grant funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. 

Left: Solidified metallic uranium droplet from a munitions firing test; right: X-ray analysis of the particle

The £600 k Environmental Radiochemistry project, which focuses on the fate of radioactive ‘hot’ particles in the environment, also involves collaboration with the University of Manchester X-ray Imaging Facility (MXIF), the Environment Agency, Sellafield Ltd., AWE, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (USA).

The research team will work to understand the behaviour and chemical evolution of radioactive ‘hot’ particles in the natural environment – a long-standing area of uncertainty. Indeed, whilst hot particles are common in natural and engineered environments, to date, poor understanding of their chemistry has lead to significant uncertainty in risk assessment and site management strategies. Reflecting this, the project team will use a library of field samples, laboratory experiments, and state-of-the-art characterisation tools (including the newly commissioned Manchester nano-SIMS) to develop a mechanistic understanding of hot particle evolution across a range of environmental conditions, over timescales ranging from months to decades. Spectroscopy studies will be carried out at Diamond, the UK's national synchrotron science facility. The output of the project will be a much-improved understanding of radioactive particle chemistry and radionuclide fate in the environment.

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