Development of analytical methods for in the marine environment of the Swedish West Coast at Lunds universitet

Master's student thesis in environmental science, chemistry or physics

Development of analytical methods for Technetium-99 in the marine environment of the Swedish West Coast

Fall 2022

The Applied Nuclear Physics group at Nuclear Physics and the Environmental Radiology group at Medical Radiation Physics Malmö (MSFM), Lund University, are investigating natural and man-made radionuclides in the environment.

Recently, we received funding from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) to investigate elevated levels of carbon-14 (14C) measured in seaweed on the coast near the Ringhals Nuclear Power Plant.

To determine how much of this 14C contamination comes from the power plant and how much comes from other sources, it is important to measure other radionuclides like technetium-99 (99Tc) or iodine-129 (129I). For example, contamination by 99Tc is known to be brought by sea currents from reprocessing plants of spent nuclear fuel in the UK and France.

The goal of this thesis work is to measure 99Tc in bioindicators (plants that are representative of their environment) like seaweed (Fucus species). The selected student will develop a method to extract and separate traces of 99Tc in fresh samples and samples collected in the past and measure the 99Tc by liquid scintillation counting or other relevant techniques. The student will perform all the chemistry and the analysis in the MSFM laboratories in Malmö.

Desired qualifications are:

  • Basic chemistry lab training is needed (preparation of solutions, knowledge of safety rules)
  • Strong interest for laboratory work
  • Some knowledge of analytical chemistry (chromatography, wet chemistry) and/or physics (radioactivity, spectroscopy alpha/beta/gamma) is an advantage
  • Good skills in written and spoken English

Work plan:

  • Reviewing the literature on extraction and analysis of 99Tc in the environment
  • Assisting the sampling of seaweed on the Swedish coast
  • Testing and optimising different methods to chemically extract and separate 99Tc in seaweed
  • Measuring of 99Tc by Liquid Scintillation Counting
  • Estimating the levels of 99Tc in the West Coast environment
  • Writing a report summarizing the results

 The degree project corresponds to 30 ECTS credits and can start during the fall 2022 semester (possibility to be extended to 60 credits).

Contact:

Guillaume Pedehontaa-Hiaa guillaume.pedehontaa-hiaa@med.lu.se

Kristina Eriksson Stenström kristina.stenstrom@nuclear.lu.se

 

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