Tritium: Advances in Research and Applications

Marija M. Janković, Ph.D. (Editor)
University of Belgrade, Institute of Nuclear Sciences “Vinča”, Radiation and Environmental Protection Department, Belgrade, Serbia

Series: Chemistry Research and Applications
BISAC: SCI013010




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Tritium, 3H (T), is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Naturally occurring tritium is rare on Earth, where trace amounts are formed by the interaction of the atmosphere with cosmic rays. Once formed in the stratosphere, the tritium atoms have a large amount of kinetic energy. At a pressure lower than atmospheric, they react with the oxygen, creating a stable radical HO2. This radical reacts with ozone, following the photochemical reaction of decomposition TO2 to HTO. Once tritium is incorporated into the water molecule, then it falls to the Earth’s surface as precipitation or snow, thus entering into the natural hydrological cycle.

Tritium is a very useful hydro-geological tracer and can be successfully applied in assessing the age of groundwater and residence times of continental hydrologic systems or as an oceanic transient tracer. Tritium releases from nuclear installations may be useful for some applications as a powerful local tracer, but on the other hand such releases may affect the reliability and accuracy of tritium use as a global tracer. For this reason, measuring of the activity concentrations of tritium is regularly a part of every national and/or international monitoring programme. Tritium is also used in radio luminescent light sources for watches and various instruments, and, along with deuterium, as a fuel for nuclear fusion reactors with applications in energy generation and weapons.

The amount of tritium that appears in the atmosphere as a product of human activity comes from: nuclear reactors, production of nuclear weapons, atmospheric and above ground nuclear explosions, heavy water and tritium plants, and plants for tritium separation. The use of tritium labeled compounds for medical and research purposes is also a possible source of contamination by tritium.
Knowledge of the tritium concentration distribution in the environment, awareness of various anthropogenic sources of tritium, and optimization of measurement conditions are of great importance in various applications and in preserving human health.


Chapter 1. Tritium Measurement with a Plastic Scintillator: An Organic Wasteless Method
(Etsuko Furuta, PhD, Faculty of Core Research, Ochanomizu University, Otsuka, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan)

Chapter 2. Tritium in Snowpacks of Eastern Siberia
(V. N. Makarov, Permafrost Institute, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia)

Chapter 3. Tritium in the Freshwater Ecosystem of the Yenisei River: Behaviour, Accumulation, and Transformation
(Lydia Bondareva, Institute of Hyhiene, Toxycology Pesticides and Chemical Seciurity, F. Erisman Federal Scientific Center, Moscow, Russia)

Chapter 4. Methodology of Tritium Determination in Aqueous Samples by Liquid Scintillation Counting Techniques
(Ivana Stojkoviæ, Nataša Todoroviæ, Jovana Nikolov, Ines Krajcar Broniæ, Jadranka Barešiæ and Uranija Kozmidis Luburiæ, Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia, and others)

Chapter 5. Tritium in Water: Hydrology and Health Implications
(Jovana Nikolov, Ines Krajcar Broniæ, Nataša Todoroviæ, Ivana Stojkoviæ, Jadranka Barešiæ and Tanja Petroviæ-Pantiæ, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia, and others)

Chapter 6. A New Method for the Determination of Tritium Originating in Surface Waters: Symmetrical Index Application
(Marija M.Jankoviæ PhD, Bojan Ž. Jankoviæ, PhD, Nataša B. Sarap, PhD, University of Belgrade, Institute of Nuclear Sciences "Vinèa", Radiation and Environmental Protection Department, Belgrade, Serbia, and others)

Chapter 7. Tritium Emissions from Nuclear Installations
(Marko Štrok, Department of Environmental Sciences, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia)


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