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How long does selenium radiate in nuclear waste?

Date:
September 6, 2010
Source:
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
Summary:
In order to estimate the safety of final storage for nuclear wastes, it is important to know the half-lives of the radioactive elements of the nuclear waste as accurately as possible. The half-life indicates the period of time in which the amount of a radioactive element decreases by half and breaks down into other atoms. This period of time can, depending on the composition of the nuclear waste, amount to decades or even millions of years.

Data on half-life of Selenium.
Credit: PTB

PTB scientists determine the half-life of 79selenium more precisely.

In order to estimate the safety of final storage for nuclear wastes, it is important to know the half-lives of the radioactive elements of the nuclear waste as accurately as possible. The half-life indicates the period of time in which the amount of a radioactive element decreases by half and breaks down into other atoms. This period of time can, depending on the composition of the nuclear waste, amount to decades or even millions of years.

In low and intermediate-level waste, the isotope 79selenium is found. Previous determinations of its half-life varied strongly between 124 000 and 1 130 000 years. In order to be able to come to a more accurate conclusion here as to how long nuclear waste which contains this isotope will probably radiate, researchers from various institutes have joined forces: Scientists from the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the Lehrstuhl für Radiochemie (Institute for Radiochemistry) of the TU Munich, the Institut für Transurane (Institute for Transuranium Elements) in Karlsruhe and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villingen (Switzerland) have now redetermined the half-life of 79selenium with a clearly improved measurement uncertainty to. Their result: 327 000 years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gerhard Jörg, Rolf Bühnemann, Simon Hollas, Niko Kivel, Karsten Kossert, Stefaan Van Winckel, Christoph Lierse v. Gostomski. Preparation of radiochemically pure 79Se and highly precise determination of its half-life. Applied Radiation and Isotopes, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.apradiso.2010.05.006

Cite This Page:

Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). "How long does selenium radiate in nuclear waste?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906163457.htm>.
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). (2010, September 6). How long does selenium radiate in nuclear waste?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906163457.htm
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB). "How long does selenium radiate in nuclear waste?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100906163457.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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