Radiation Cleanup Could Go Faster With New Technology

January 2, 2011 Updated: January 2, 2011

Oregon State University scientists have invented a new instrument to detect and measure radioactive contamination. The new spectrometer can make cleanup of contaminated sites faster, more accurate, and cheaper, according to the university.

"Unlike other detectors, this spectrometer is more efficient, and able to measure and quantify both gamma and beta radiation at the same time," said Dr. David Hamby, one of the researchers who spent over 10 years developing the device, in a press release. "This system will be able to provide accurate results in 15 minutes that previously might have taken half a day.”

The new system will allow contaminated sites to be monitored frequently, Hamby said. "At some point the remaining level of radioactivity is not a concern. So we need the ability to do frequent and accurate testing to protect the environment while also controlling costs."

The device could also potentially be used in medical radioactive tracers and monitor industrial nuclear energy processes.