Development and study of a Thoron (Rn-220) standard source
Elhag, Elmughera Hussein Salim
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Thoron Rn-220 is a radioactive gas with a half-life of 55.6 s. It has been identified as a possible health concern in specific places such as monazite processing plants and (rare-earth) mines. The short half-life of Rn-220 makes Rn-220 calibration sources and chambers less common than for the isotope Rn-222. There are many Rn-220 standard sources and chambers that are widely described in the literature and used for different applications and calibration. However, some of these chambers and sources are not easy to set up in typical nuclear environmental laboratories. In this project, we developed a Rn-220 standard source using a thorium nitrate solution (Th(NO3)4.6H2O). The solution was split into a large volume which was used in a Marinelli beaker to characterize its strength using a Hyper Pure Germanium (HPGe) detector, and a smaller volume of around 30 ml which was poured into a small bottle. The Rn-220 is extracted by bubbling air through the solution in the small bottle using an aerator. Gamma rays from the solution were measured simultaneously using a 76.2 mm × 76.2 mm NaI(Tl) detector. The gamma rays were measured for 66 hours. The accumulated spectra were thereafter analysed using an Excel spreadsheet where the counts in the Tl-208(2614 keV) peak were extracted and used to obtain the percentage of Rn-220 pumped out of the solution in the small bottle.