CINCH Recommended Knowledge

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Cooperation in education in nuclear chemistry) -

In the following, minimum requirements for nuclear and radiochemistry teaching in the European
universities are outlined for MSc level. The plan is intended to form a basis for European master’s
degree in nuclear and radiochemistry (or European master's degree in chemistry - specialization in
nuclear and radiochemistry). The status of the degree can be granted on the basis of mutual
agreement with participating universities or by a decision of an external body such as EuCheMS.
Teaching can consist of lecture and laboratory exercise modules as well as of exams.

Structure of MSc programme on nuclear and radiochemistry (NRC)

  • BSc in chemistry 180 cu
  • Mandatory studies on nuclear and radiochemistry 25 cu
  • (of which at least 10 cu exercises)
  • Optional studies on nuclear and radiochemistry 5 cu
  • Project work and master’s thesis in nuclear and radiochemistry 30 cu
  • Other studies rest
  • In total 300 cu

Mandatory Topics

Mandatory studies on nuclear and radiochemistry (25 cu):

  1. Radioactivity, radionuclides and radiation – principles of nuclear physics for radiochemists
  2. Radiation safety (radiological protection)
  3. Detection and measurement of radiation

To teach the students basic knowledge on interaction processes of radiation with matter as a
basis for radiation detection, basic instrumentation in radiation detection, detector types and
formation of electric pulses in them, interpretation of various spectra, energy resolution, energy
and efficiency calibrations. Since ICP-MS is becoming a standard method for the measurement
of many radionuclides basics on mass spectrometric measurement of radionuclides should also
be at least shortly covered.
- interaction processes of radiation with matter (ionization, scattering, excitation, formation of
electromagnetic radiation, nuclear reaction)
o alpha
o beta
o gamma
o neutrons
- basic instrumentation in radiation measurements (detector, preamplifier, amplifier, ADC,
- pulse counting vs. spectrometry
- pulse rate 􀃆 counting efficiency 􀃆 activity
- factors affecting counting efficiency (detector efficiency, absorption, geometry, selfabsorption,
backscattering, dead-time)
- energy resolution
- detectors for radiation measurement:
o gas ionization detectors
o solid and liquid scintillators
o semiconductor detectors
- statistics and error calculations in radiometric measurements
- interpretation of gamma, alpha, beta and X-ray spectra
- energy and efficiency calibrations
- liquid scintillation counting
- radiation imaging (autoradiography, fission and alpha track counting etc)
- background formation and subtraction
- quality control in radiation measurements
- mass spectrometric measurement of radionuclides
4. Chemistry and analysis of radionuclides
To teach basic knowledge on the chemical properties of most important radionuclides and the
chemical methods used for their separation from various matrices. To teach how chemical
properties and speciation affect the behaviour of radionuclides in natural and anthropogenic
- chemistry (oxidation states, solubilities, complex formation, hydrolysis, compounds),
nuclear characteristics (half-lives, decay modes, emitted radiation), measurement techniques
of most important alpha and beta emitting radionuclides in the environment and in nuclear
o natural radionuclides (U, Th, Ra, Po, Pb)
o fission products (Sr, Tc, I, Cs etc.)
o activation products (Ni, Fe, Co, Mn)
o tritium and radiocarbon
o transuranics (Np, Pu, Am, Cm)
- special characteristics of the chemistry and separations of radionuclides (trace
concentrations, radiation, use of carriers, adsorption of radionuclides)
- needs and principles of radiochemical separations (alpha, beta and EC decaying
radionuclides with no detectable gamma emissions, gamma emitting radionuclides of very
low activities)
- analytical methods used in radionuclide separations (precipitation, ion exchange, solvent
extraction, extraction chromatography)
- yield determination and counting source preparations
- separation of long-lived radionuclides for mass spectrometric measurement
- sampling and sample pretreatment methods
- speciation analysis of radionuclides
- hot-atom chemistry
5. Nuclear reactions and production of radionuclides
To teach the students basic knowledge on nuclear reactions and production of radionuclides.
This topic area also gives basic skills in calculation of radionuclide production yields in particle
- interaction processes of particles with nuclei
- types of nuclear reactions and models
- coulombic barrier
- energetics of nuclear reactions
- kinetics of nuclear reactions
- cross-sections
- excitation functions
- induced fission
- types of particle accelerators
- production of radionuclides in cyclotrons
- production of radionuclides in reactors
- radionuclide generators
6. Exercises (laboratory and calculation exercises) (at least 10 cu)
Calculation exercises:
To give the students skills to calculate activities, their uncertainties, calculate or estimate
radiation doses, calculate irradiation yields and to use nuclide charts / tables of nuclides.
- use of internet nuclide chart / table of nuclides
- calculation of activities based on half-life data
- calculations of irradiation yields based of cross sections and projectile flux
- calculation and measurement of gamma irradiation dose from a point source
- calculation of required shielding for radiation protection
- uncertainty calculations in activity measurements
- conversion of count rates to activities
Laboratory exercises:
To give the students skills for safe handling of radionuclides and sealed sources and to safely
dispose of radioactive waste from radionuclide laboratories, use of radiation dose meters and
instruments to detect contamination, basic skills to detect and measure gamma and beta
radiation using common radiation measurement techniques and to separate radionuclides from
aqueous and solid samples using common radiochemical separation methods.
- detection of planar contamination for radiation safety
- use of radiation dose meters for radiation safety to measure total dose and dose rates
- measurement of radiation with a Geiger tube (absorption of beta radiation etc)
- measurement of radiation with a LSC
- measurement of radiation with a gamma spectrometer - interpretation of gamma spectra
- separations of radionuclides by using
o precipitation/coprecipitation
o ion exchange chromatography
o solvent extraction and/or extraction chromatography
Recommended laboratory exercises:
Below a more comprehensive list of laboratory exercises is given as a recommendation.
- detection of planar contamination for radiation safety
- use of radiation dose meters for radiation safety to measure total dose and dose rates
- measurement of radiation with a Geiger tube (e.g. determination of absorption curve for beta
radiation, determination of dead-time, effect of counting geometry on observed counting
- determination of half-life (determination of the half-life of a short-lived radionuclide, such
as137mBa, obtained from a generator)
- single channel exercise with a solid scintillation detector (measurement of the gamma
spectrum of a gamma emitting radionuclide, such as 137Cs, measurement of a standard and
an unknown sample on the selected peak region, calculation of the activity of the unknown
sample, determination of energy resolution)
- gamma spectrometry with a solid scintillation detector (energy calibration, determination of
a sample containing few unknown radionuclides, identification of these radionuclides,
interpretation of the gamma spectrum)
- gamma spectrometry with a semiconductor detector (energy calibration, determination of a
sample containing unknown radionuclides, identification of these radionuclides,
interpretation of the gamma spectrum)
- alpha spectrometry (separation of an alpha emitter from environmental or waste sample
using radiochemical separation techniques, preparation of the counting source, measurement
of the alpha spectrum, calculation of the activity)
- beta counting with LSC (quenching curve determination, separation of a beta emitter from
environmental or waste sample using radiochemical separation techniques, preparation of
the counting source, measurement of the sample for the activity determination)
- radiochemical separations using precipitation, ion exchange, solvent extraction and
extraction chromatography
o separation of beta emitting radionuclides (e.g. 90Sr)
o separation of alpha emitting radionuclides (e.g. 234,235,238U)
o separation of EC decaying radionuclides (e.g. 55Fe)
Optional studies (5 cu):
Optional studies consist of several (3-5 cu each) modules on various application fields of nuclear
and radiochemistry. Examples of such courses are given below. The fields of the courses are
recommended to closely link with the actual research field/s of the unit giving the teaching so that
the teaching and research are closely connected and best available researchers are giving the courses
at their specialty areas. If possible the courses may also contain laboratory exercises.
7. Chemistry of the nuclear fuel cycle
- uranium ores
- extraction of uranium from ore minerals
- mill tailings and their disposal
- purification of raw uranium products
- enrichment of 235U
- production of uranium fuel for power reactors
- use on uranium fuel in power reactors
- power reactor types
- water chemistry of nuclear power reactors
- types of nuclear waste and their formation processes
- management and final disposal of nuclear waste
- reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel
- decommissioning of nuclear facilitities
- behaviour of nuclear waste in geological final repositories
8. Radiopharmaceutical chemistry
- production of radionuclides
o in cyclotrons
o in nuclear reactor
o with radionuclide generators
o radionuclidic purity
o target chemistry
- radiopharmaceutical chemistry
o types of organic molecules and other compounds to be labeled
o labeling chemistry of 11C
o labeling chemistry of 18F
o radioiodinations (123I and 124I)
o labeling chemistry of metal radionuclides (68Ga, 111In, 64Cu, 99mTc)
o radiochemical purity
- quality control and regulatory issues
- PET and SPECT imaging
o instrumentation
o pharmacokinetics and modeling
- applications in
o diagnostics (oncology, cardiology, neurology and psychiatry, gene expression and
cell trafficking)
o drug development
o medical research
o therapeutics
9. Environmental radioactivity – radioecology
- description of environmental compartments (geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere)
- sources of radionuclides in the environment
o natural
o artificial
- behaviour of radionuclides in
o the air
o natural waters
o soils and sediments
o biota
- speciation and tracer techniques
- mobility and bioavailability studies
- environmental impact and risk assessment
- transfer processes of radionuclides in the environment and in food chains
- modelling of transfer processes
- countermeasures and preparedness
10. Chemistry of actinides and transactinides
- natural actinides
- production/formation of actinides in nuclear explosions, nuclear reactors and accelerators
- electronic structure
- ionic radii
- oxidation state
- major chemical forms
- disproportionation
- hydrolysis and polymerisation
- complex formation
- oxides and other important compounds
- chemistry of U, Th, Np, Pu and Am
- speciation of actinides
- separations
o analytical
o industrial (PUREX etc)
- production of transactinides - extension of the periodic table
- chemical properties of the transactinides
11. Chemistry of radionuclides in geosphere related to final disposal of spent nuclear fuel or
high-level waste
- management of spent nuclear fuel (SNF)
- reprocessing of nuclear fuel, production of high-level waste (HLW)
- encapsulation of SNF/HLW
- geological disposal of SNF/HLW
- dissolution/leaching of radionuclides from SNF/HLW
- forms of radionuclides in SNF/HLW
- forms of dissolved radionuclides in the repository environment
- analytical methods for radionuclide speciation
- functions and long-term behaviour of buffer materials (e.g. bentonite)
- migration of radionuclides in geosphere
- sorption of radionuclides in minerals
- diffusion of radionuclides into geological matrix
11. Radiation chemistry
- Irradiation methods
o Types of irradiation sources and devices
o Dosimetrics
o Effects of irradiation geometry, thickness of the target etc.
o Use of data basis and related computer programmes
- Reactions in radiation chemistry in various materials
o Basic reactions, formation of intermediates, excited states, ions, electrons and
o Reaction of intermediates, formation of stable products
o Radiation chemical yields
o Kinetics of radiolysis
o Reactions in water and water solutions, polymers, metals, nuclear fuel, nutrients,
cells etc.
- Analytical methods used in radiation chemistry
- Application of radiation chemistry
o radiation sterilization of medical equipment
o radiation sterilization of food stuffs
o polymerization and polymer functionalization
o etc.
12. Nuclear and radioanalytical methods
- Radioimmunoassay (RIA)
- Neutron activation analysis (NAA) – instrumental and radiochemical
- Isotope dilution analysis
- Radiodating methods (14C-dating, 210Po-dating etc.)
- Radiometric titration
- Use of nuclear and radioanalytical methods in industry