Analytical Methods for Measurement of Uranium and Radium in Phytoremediation Studies


Northwestern New Mexico is home to hundreds of uranium mines that are no longer in operation. At many of these sites, groundwater and soil are contaminated with uranium and uranium radioactive decay products that can pose chemical toxicity and radiation exposure hazards. Phytoremediation, the use of plants to concentrate and remove contaminants, is one option being explored for these sites. Studying the effectiveness of the phytoremediation requires the ability to measure concentrations of the contaminants, in this case uranium and radium, in the soil and produced plants. These analyses can be challenging given the low concentrations (parts per billion or parts per trillion), so complementary chemical and radiochemical analyses are often used.

Completion Objectives:

• Complete required safety training including basic radiation safety.
• Complete training needed to be added to phytoremediation study experimental safety plans (ESP).
• Gain familiarity with biomass combustion, microwave-assisted acid digestion, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), and high-resolution mass spectrometry methods for chemical analysis of trans-uranic elements; provide written summary of methods.
• Gain familiarity with liquid scintillation counting and other radiochemical analyses; provide written summary of methods.

Faculty Advisor:


Required Competencies

CHEM 112, CHME 101, availability to be hired to continue research in summer

Student Researcher:

Yasaman Ghanbari

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