Centre for Radiochemistry and Nuclear Materials

Radiochemistry is a highly successful niche area at Loughborough and one which we are developing and growing. Our centre is rightly regarded as a strategic asset by the UK nuclear industry for we conduct important research into deep geological disposal. In addition to providing a steady stream of high calibre graduates, our work has a significant impact on national and international policy.

The Radiochemistry Section comprises three members of academic staff, a technician and 17 researchers (PDRAs and PhDs). It is operating at close to capacity and is currently planning to expand and develop its operation still further.

Of special note is the recent development of research programmes in industrial radioactivity and the continued refinement of our advanced mobile laboratory; the only one of its type in the UK. Much of our work is in partnership with other research areas notably: Materials, and Sports Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough, as well as collaborations with Nottingham and Manchester Universities. .

In summary, this centre is positioned to contribute to the developing Energy and Environment, agendas. We are ambitious to raise our profile internationally, achieve pre-eminence nationally in targeted areas and constitute a regional resource for partner organisations within the East Midlands.

Our radiochemical capability currently includes

Water chemistry

Undertaking speciation, stability constants, kinetics, and modelling investigations concerned with metal interactions with inorganic colloids (silica, iron, manganese and aluminium), low molecular weight natural organics (citrate, acetate etc.), anthropogenic species (EDTA etc.) and naturally occurring organic colloids (humic and fulvic acids).

Surface interactions

Focusing on metal and metal-complex interactions with mineral and clay surfaces in the presence and absence of humic materials. Kinetics and strengths of surface interactions are studied by batch and column methods. Distribution ratios are measured as a function of pH, temperature, ionic strength.

Mobility of aqueous species

Column experiments have been developed that allow humic and fulvic acids to be covalently labelled with either 14C or 125I so that the mobility and the interactions of these acids with aquifers and other species present in waters can be studied.

Predictive computer modelling

Codes have been created that enable formation constants for reactions which are of fundamental importance in estimating radionuclide mobility to be predicted under a range of environmental scenarios.

  • γ-spectrometry, γ-counting
  • α-spectrometry
  • Liquid scintillation counting
  • ICP-MS and ICP-OES
  • HPLC
  • Radon detection and measurement
  • XRD and XRF
  • Measurement of open sources
  • “Hot” glove boxes