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DOSE RA~ SURFACf

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Of ORALL~

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Septeaber 7, 1976

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Product Iatearity aad SuTYeillaace
Ch-.istry Research and De..lopaeat

V(f

IOCDILL JMTEUAT ION.Al.

Atoaics Iateraatioaal DiYisioa


locky flats PJ ..t
Goldn, Colotuo

Diatrilnati01l:
C.
B.
D.
D.

Co~nes, LLL
L. Galles, LLL
G. Tut&le, LASL
&. Str~feld, AI, Rocky Plats
IU (llecord}
Tlaru: 1. H. larlssOD

A..

DJC l ...x:
Ora11oy

ltetica Effects

()... ........:t.o

'

DISCLAIMER
This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an
agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States
Government nor any agency Thereof, nor any of their employees,
makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal
liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or
usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process
disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately
owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product,
process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or
otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement,
recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any
agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein
do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States
Government or any agency thereof.

DISCLAIMER
Portions of this document may be illegible in
electronic image products. Images are produced
from the best available original document.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

...................

EXPERIMENTALLY DETERMINED DOSE KATE

CALCULATED DOSE RATE

ABSORBED DOSE IN PLASTICS

..................
CONCLUSIONS ....................
GAI4A DOSE RATE

7
9

IrRODUCTION
Oralloy (enriched uranium) is a potential source of radiation

damage because of its alpha and gamma radioactivity.

The

radiation effects will be relatively small because of the low

specific activity.

However, the long design lifetimes (many

years) of some materials could lead to appreciable damage.

To

estimate this damage, the dose rate from the surface of oralloy
must be determined.

theoretically.

This has been done experimentally and

The isotopic composition of oralloy used at

Rocky Flats, as determined by mass spectrometry, is the ollowing.


1.01
93.13
0.32t

U-24
U-23S
U-236
U-238

S.SSt

EXPERIMENTALLY DETERMINED DOSE RATE


Radioactive counting techniques were used to measure the dose

rate from orallov.

A counting source was fabricated by machining

an oralloy disc (diameter

1/4 inch and thickness

1/16 inch)

which fit exactly into the machined depression of an almainu


disc (di--eter- 1 inch and thickness

1/8 inch).

The top of

the oralloy was flush with the aluminum surface so that only the

top surface

Carea

0.316 cm z) would be

counted.

Since the

range of the alpha particles in oralloy is about 6 microns, this


is an infinite source.

Results obtained from a machined or polished surface were


The total alpha disintegration rate,

essentially the same.

measured with a proportional counter, was 151,680 +/-225 counts

per minute.

The average alpha energy was determined using a

silicon surface barrier

analyzer.

detector coupled to a pulse height

Integration under the resulting spectrum gave an

average energy of 2.69 MeV, which is 56t of the maximum energy. s


Multiplying the count rate by the average energy gives an alpha

dose rate of 2.15 x

101 eV per second per cm z.

CALCULATED DOSE RATE


The following properties of the uranium isotopes were used.
half life
U-34
U-235
U-238
U-236

alpha energy

2.47xi0 years
xlO e

years
years
2.34x107 years

7.1
4.51x10

4.76
4.40
4.18
4.49

z
ramie in alr

4.00 ag/cm=
3.50 mg/cm
3.25 mg/cm

MeV
MeV
14eV

eV

The dose contributions from uranium-2$8 and -236 were considered


and found to be negligible.
The dose rate wa calculated by multiplying the alpha particle

flux by the average energy of the emergent particles.

particle flux (n)

*.

calculated according to:

The

specific activity (disintegrations


per second per

where sp A

sp k x R/4

range

The rahge was calculated according to:

R z/0.01 Z/z
where R z

Ra
Z
z
E
M

Ra [0.90/ 0.0275

Z/

(0.06- 0.0086 Z) log

range, mg/cm 2
range in air
atomic number of element

tomic

number of particle
particle energy in MeV
mass number of particle

The flux and range (dividing R z by 18.81, the density of oralloy,


gives the range in cm) of alpha particles from uranium-254 and

-235 are:

U-254
U-255

Rz

7.48x10 s /sec/cm 2

15.I mg/cm 2
11.4 mg/cm 2

6.96x10 .4 cm
6.08x10 .4 ca

2.28x102 /sec/cm 2

The average energy was taken to be 2/3 of the maximum energy.


This value was derived using an approximation of the Bethe-Block

equation.

(s

E"
where

E
Eo
r
R

energy of the

11

particle
initial
particle energy
distance particle travels
particle range

1/2

The average energy is defined as


The dose rates fromU-Z34and

f"

f
"o

Edr divided by

U-Z3$ in

dr.

oralloy were thereby

determined to be:

2.57x1012 eV/sec/cm 2
6.68x108 eV/sec/cm

U-254
U-255

The dose rate from oralloy is the weighted average

rom

these

two isotopes.

2.37x10

(1.01t)

6.68x10 (95.15)

2.45xI0 s V/sec/cm

This value is a little larger than the measured dose (2.15 x 10 I

eV/sec/cm ) because of the difference in the average alpha


energies.

The measured energy was $6 of the maxim,,= energy

and the theoretical energy (using an approximate calculation)


was 66.6t of the maximum energy.

ABSORBED DOSE IN PLASTICS

To assess the radiation damage upon prolonged exposure from


oralloy, a calculation has been made using polyethylene as a
representative plastic.

range

The first step was to calculate the

of the alpha particles in

polyethylene,(CH2)x.

The

assumption was made that the plastic is in contact with the

oralloy so that the average particle energy is still 2.69 MeV.

Ranges in hydrogen and carbon were calculated using equations


similar to the one used previously in this report, r

The ranges

are 0.51 mg/ca and 1.75 ag/ca 2 for hydrogen and carbon,
respectively.

The range in polyethylene was calculated

according to:

-,1
gC,) x

0.$S7"

0.143"

*weight fraction of element in CCH2) x

The range was 1.30 ag/ca 2 or ..:x10 .3 ca.

The absorbed dose

can thereby be calculated


bose

2.15x1013 eV/sec/ca
10- g/ca

1. :30 x

/6.Z 4 xI radl0,, eY/gl(:3"lSxlO


-e"

secl

8.:3 x 10 s fads/year
This is the approximate dose at which polyethylene and uny other

plastics start to decompose.

The damaging dose is greatly variable

and depends on the plastic as well as the property of interest.

Nevertheless, it appears that many organic materials w111 undergo


significant decomposition in a few years of contact with oralloy.

However, these effects will only occur to a depth of approxiaately 1-2x10 .3 ca.

GA}@4A

DOSE RATE

Instrumentation was not available to measure the gam dose rate

from oralloy, but a rough approximation was calculated for coapari-

son with the alpha dose rate.

-2:35 show the following:

Decay schemes for uranium-2:34 and

U-234

4.30xI0 dis/sec/cm s

specific activity

72 of decays to ground
0.053 MeV gamma ray

28 of decays
U-235

i.$0x10 dis/sec/cm 2

specific activity

a spectrum of gamma rays with an


75.8 o decays
average energy of 0.18 MeV

The absorption coeficients ( and half thickness for these

gamma rays in oralloy are:

0.053 MeV
0.18 MeV

ulP Ccm21e)

Cc ")

9.86
1.79

185
33.6

Half thickness

(ca)

3.74 x I0
2.06 x 10 .2

For the dose rate approximation, assume that one-half (g ometry

factor) of 811 the gamma energy is released from a half thickness

oralloy.

U-234

Dose

U-235

Dose

dis
4.30x10 sec
ca
1.19 x I0

1.SO x

(0.28)(0.50)(5.3x10" s)

13.74x10

eV/sec/cm 2

10 secdis

[2.06 x 10

2.19xl0 s eV/sec/cn 2

c=-w/

(0.788) (0. so) 1.8xlO

s)

-9-

The total dose rate from oralloy is the weighted average.


t

11

U-234
U-235

1.01t (1.19 x 10 )
9
95.13t (2.19 x 10 )
Total dose rate

1.20 x 10
9
2.04 x 10
5.24 x 10

37.0t of energy
63.0t of energy

eY/sec/cm a

Not only is the gamma dose rate almost an order of magnitude


less than the alpha dose rate, but the gamma penetration

(half thickness) in plastics is about a thousand times that


of alpha penetration, so that the absorbed dose from gamma
radiation is negligible compared to that from alpha radiation.

CONCLUSIONS
The alpha dose rate from the surface of oralloy was determined
10

to be 2.15 x 10

value).

eV/sec/cm 2 (or 2.45 x 10

10

eV/sec/cm 2 clculated

Almost all of the dose emanates from uranlua-234, whose

isotopic concentration is 1.01t.

The absorbed

ethylene was calculated to be 8.5 x 10

dose

in poly-

fads/year indicating

that most plastics would radiolytically decompose appreciably


in a few years.

However, the decomposition would only occur

to a depth of 1-2 x 10 "s cm, the alpha partlcle range.

The

gma dose rate was also estimated and found to be negligible


compared to the alpha dose

10

REFERENCES

I.

The counting was done by Richard Murri of the Rocky Flats


Environmental Science Group

G. Friedlander, J. W. Kennedy, and J. M. Miller, "Nuclear


and Radiochemistry," John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1964,
page 96.
5.

G. D. Finney and R. D. Evans, Physical Review, 48, 505

(1935).
G. Friedlander, J. W. Kennedy, and J. M. Miller, "Nuclear
and Radiochemistry," John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1964,
page 95.

S.

M. McD. Baker, R. Hughes, J. A. Spooner, ACO/UK-2325,


October 1964.

J. H. Hubbell, Photon Cross Sections, Attenuation Coefficients,


and Energy Absorption Coefficients from 10 keV to 100 GeV,
NSRDS-NBS 29, August 1969.