High Sensitivity, Low Cost Fluorescence Detection for Beryllium Particulates
Workers performng deactivation and decommission activities in DOE facilities wear badges to measure exposure to beryllium. Currently, these badges are comprised of an air pump that draws in air to trap particulates on a filter cassette, which is then analyzed for beryllium. An ability to measure lower amounts of beryllium would be desirable because: (1) lower amounts of air could be sampled on a worker¿s detection badge, allowing increased worker comfort and flexibility due to a lighter weight badge; and (2) proposals have been advanced to decrease the regulatory limits for beryllium by a factor of 10 ¿ which would require pumps that are ten times bigger, making the badges even more cumbersome. This project will apply a newly-commercialized, fluorescence detection system to lower the detection limits by a factor of 10 (i.e., down to 0.002 micro-grams). The fast response, high throughput, low cost, and portability of this system would allow for the quick analysis of badges, providing rapid feedback. Phase I will involve a combination of chemistry and instrument development. Chemical modifications to the fluorescence detection system will be made to increase the amount of beryllium while controlling its pH. Electronic and optical changes will be made in the instrument itself, in order to decrease random noise and provide a better detection limit. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: In addition to the DOE application, the technology should industrial applications in places where workers are at risk to beryllium exposure. Beryllium alloys are used in high-end electrical connectors, springs, bearings and other components. Trace beryllium is also often found in coal slag and aluminum ore. Finally, the high thermal conductivity of beryllium oxide, along with its electrical insulation capability, makes it a key component for the dissipation of heat in integrated circuits.
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4541 East Fort Lowell Road Tucson, AZ 85712
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