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National Technical University of Athens
School of Mechanical Engineering
Nuclear Engineering Department

Applied Radiation and Isotopes 68(1):155-163, 2010

Passive, integrated measurement of radon using 5A synthetic zeolite and blue silica gel

J.S. Paschalides, G.S. Marinakis and N.P. Petropoulos
Nuclear Engineering Department, School of Mechanical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens
Synthetic zeolite of 0.5 nm pore size (5A) and blue silica gel were tested to determine their capability to be used as radon collectors. Tests conducted in a radon chamber under controlled conditions of temperature and relative humidity indicate that simple, inexpensive and maintenance-free passive devices containing about 250 g of synthetic zeolite or about 270 g of blue silica gel in open face metal canisters that can measure radon conveniently and adequately, the latter though being suitable only for drymedium dry atmosphere with quite high radon concentrations. Both materials can be recycled for reuse, in a way similar to the recycle and reuse of active carbon. The amount of radon adsorbed in such collectors is determined by counting the gamma rays from the radon decay products. The lower limit of detection (LLD) is estimated to 45 Bqm3 for the synthetic zeolite and to 350 Bqm-3 for the blue silica gel, for an exposure of 48 h at a relative humidity of about 50%. In comparison, the corresponding LLD for active carbon is estimated to 10 Bqm-3. At relative humidity in the range between 10% and 50%, radon chamber experiments indicate that the measured radon in the canisters is proportional to the mean concentration of radon during the period of exposure. It is estimated that calibration uncertainty lies within ±20% for both materials, thus suggesting that at least detectors based on the 5A synthetic zeolite presenting a reasonably low LLD, are a feasible and of similar cost alternative to activated carbon for indoors radon concentration measurements in practical situations.
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