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Alpha Gloveboxes

  1. Oct 22, 2007 #1
    Why do alpha gloveboxes require so much shielding? Do alpha particle interactions create high energy electrons which produce Bremsstrahlung radiation or is it the high activity producing greater quantities of low intensity gammas?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2007 #2
  4. Oct 30, 2007 #3

    Morbius

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    Science Advisor

    Andronicus,

    Actually, alpha gloveboxes DON'T have much shielding.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Glovebox.jpg

    If you are dealing with something that produces a lot of gammas; then you don't work with it in a
    glovebox - you work with it in a "hot cell" or "cave"; and the gamma source is handled with remote
    manipulators - those "mechanical arms".

    http://www.et.anl.gov/sections/hfs/facilities/aghcf.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_cell

    http://itu.jrc.ec.europa.eu/index.php?id=30

    You wouldn't want to handle a high activity gamma source in a glovebox, because all you have
    between your hands and the source is the gloves.

    "So much shielding" is a relative term. What do you mean by "so much shielding". A few inches
    of metal is NOT "much shielding" if you are talking about gammas. A few inches of metal will handle
    betas, and certainly alphas.

    For gammas, you need several inches of lead, or a few feet of concrete. You don't see gloveboxes
    shielded with many feet of concrete.

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
    Physicist
     
  5. Oct 30, 2007 #4
    I asked around work and I was just confused with my terms. "Alpha gloveboxes" is a term not commonly used and "alpha boxes," the term I meant are essentially hot cells with an arbitrary name specific to a certain facility.

    I had incorrectly assumed alpha gloveboxes meant Pu-238 gloveboxes and the sheilding was in fact the heavily lead for the alpha boxes. The danger with Pu-238 gloveboxes are in fact neutrons from the O-18 & O-17 (alpha,n) reactions. This is partially mitigated through a heat treatment replacing the oxygen with O-16, and inerting the gloveboxes to prevent back contamination of O-18 & O-17.

    Again sorry for my initial confusion.
     
  6. Oct 30, 2007 #5

    Astronuc

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    Staff: Mentor

    Pu-238 is found in the form of PuO2, which is used in RTG's. Is that the application for which one needs boxes?

    This might be of interest - http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/neep602/SPRING00/lecture5.pdf
     
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