New Paper on Tracking Tritium in the Environment

Rebecca Jeffers, a former student of mine has recently published this paper in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity on some of her M.Eng. thesis work. The abstract reads:

Tritium is a radioisotope of hydrogen that exists naturally in the environment and may also be released through anthropogenic activities. It bonds readily with hydrogen and oxygen atoms to form tritiated water, which then cycles through the hydrosphere. This paper seeks to model the migration of tritiated species throughout the environment e including atmospheric, river and coastal systems more comprehensively and more consistently across release scenarios than is currently in the literature.

A review of the features and underlying conceptual models of some existing tritium release models was conducted, and an underlying aggregated conceptual process model defined, which is presented. The new model, dubbed ‘Tritium Environmental Release Model’ (TERM), was then tested against multiple validation sets from literature, including experimental data and reference tests for tritium models. TERM has been shown to be capable of providing reasonable results which are broadly comparable with atmospheric HTO release models from the literature, spanning both continuous and discrete release conditions. TERM also performed well when compared with atmospheric data. TERM is believed to be a useful tool for examining discrete and continuous atmospheric releases or combinations thereof. TERM also includes further capabilities (e.g. river and coastal release scenarios) that may be applicable to certain scenarios that atmospheric models alone may not handle well.

An interesting aspect of Rebecca’s work is that TERM can simulates several portions of the hydrosphere (i.e. rivers, coastal waters) that others may not, both for continuous (think routine, or background) and discrete (think accident) release events.