Engineering and physical science

Novel Hand-Held, Portable Device to Measure Trace Levels of Uranium in Water

The technology

Technology summary

Quantifying the amount of radioactive contamination can be a challenging process during environmental and security management. There are several ways to detect such materials as uranium, but the most common way is by measuring high-energy radioactive decay products. This method works well in high concentration solutions, but fails at low concentration levels in soil or water. Decreased sensitivity by this method occurs since signals are weak and attenuated, therefore making it difficult to measure outside a laboratory.

As an alternative to current techniques, researchers at VCU have developed a novel method and device to measure low concentration levels of uranium in water. This device is portable, therefore allowing measurements to occur on-site. It has a greater sensitivity than current techniques where uranium is tested from a single sample directly from a water source. Since the hand-held device is an all-in-one compact system, results occur within seconds to provide concentration ranges of uranium.

Technology status

This invention has been prototyped and tested.