Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Committee Member

Ralf Sudowe

Second Committee Member

Frederic Poineau

Third Committee Member

Eswari Mariappan-Balasekaran

Fourth Committee Member

Alexander Barzilov

Number of Pages



Rapid radiochemical methods are needed to provide fast, reliable analytical measurements on a variety of different sample matrices in the case of a radiological event to protect the public, mitigate dose and protect the environment. If a radiological dispersive device (RDD), an Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) or a nuclear accident occurs, there will be an urgent need for quick analyses of urban matrices materials to support decision-making, dose mitigation and environmental clean-up. Since an incident involving a RDD or IND will likely occur in an urban or metropolitan area, it is very important to employ swift, robust analytical methods that can be effectively applied to urban matrices. These types of sample matrices include soil, concrete, brick, asphalt, limestone, marble, granite and steel. These samples matrices are challenging solid materials that must be effectively digested so that the analytes can be collected, purified and measured quickly. Because there may be refractory particles present in these sample matrices, the analytical methods must utilize robust sample digestion methods. The radiochemical methods need to efficiently remove radiological interferences, so that high quality, defensible measurements can be made. Rapid extraction chromatography techniques can be used to quickly purify actinide elements, 89Sr, 90Sr and 226Ra so that these radioisotopes can be quantified with reliability.

The goal of this work is to develop new, rapid techniques that can be used with a variety of urban matrices and that utilize rapid digestion and preconcentration methods, coupled with fast extraction chromatography techniques. These new methods will need to overcome challenges associated with each sample type. Rugged digestion of refractory particles, that may be present resulting from the intense heat and pressure of a detonation, was tested for a wide range of urban matrices. This research focuses on the rapid measurement of actinides, 89Sr, 90Sr and 226Ra isotopes in limestone, marble, concrete and steel samples. The determination of radium-226 in steel samples is also be included in this work. Alpha spectrometry, gas proportional counting, and liquid scintillation counting instrumentation were all utilized in this study.


actinides; emergency reponse; rapid methods; strontium; total dissolution; urban matrices


Chemistry | Radiochemistry