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Human-made (or artificial) radioactivity has been produced for decades and has many uses. Some of these include medical therapy for cancer, medical imaging and diagnostics, and food preservation by irradiation. It is clear that radiation is hazardous.A number of tragic examples of this exist, one of the most disastrous being the meltdown and fire at the Chernobyl reactor complex in the Ukraine (see [link] ). Several radioactive isotopes were released in huge quantities, contaminating many thousands of square kilometers and directly affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The most significant releases were of 131 I , 90 Sr , 137 Cs , 239 Pu , 238 U , and 235 U . Estimates are that the total amount of radiation released was about 100 million curies.

Human and medical applications

A person holding a hand held radiation detector near the Chernobyl reactor.
The Chernobyl reactor. More than 100 people died soon after its meltdown, and there will be thousands of deaths from radiation-induced cancer in the future. While the accident was due to a series of human errors, the cleanup efforts were heroic. Most of the immediate fatalities were firefighters and reactor personnel. (credit: Elena Filatova)

What mass of 137 Cs Escaped chernobyl?

It is estimated that the Chernobyl disaster released 6.0 MCi of 137 Cs into the environment. Calculate the mass of 137 Cs released.

Strategy

We can calculate the mass released using Avogadro’s number and the concept of a mole if we can first find the number of nuclei N size 12{N} {} released. Since the activity R size 12{R} {} is given, and the half-life of 137 Cs size 12{"" lSup { size 8{"137"} } "Cs"} {} is found in Appendix B to be 30.2 y, we can use the equation R = 0 . 693 N t 1 / 2 size 12{R= { {0 "." "693"N} over {t rSub { size 8{1/2} } } } } {} to find N size 12{N} {} .

Solution

Solving the equation R = 0 . 693 N t 1 / 2 size 12{R= { {0 "." "693"N} over {t rSub { size 8{1/2} } } } } {} for N size 12{N} {} gives

N = Rt 1/2 0.693 . size 12{N= { { ital "Rt""" lSub { size 8{1/2} } } over {0 "." "693"} } } {}

Entering the given values yields

N = ( 6.0 MCi ) ( 30 . 2 y ) 0 . 693 . size 12{N= { { \( 6 "." 0" MCi" \) \( "30" "." 2" y" \) } over {0 "." "693"} } } {}

Converting curies to becquerels and years to seconds, we get

N = ( 6 . 0 × 10 6 Ci ) ( 3 . 7 × 10 10 Bq/Ci ) ( 30.2 y ) ( 3 . 16 × 10 7 s/y ) 0.693 = 3 . 1 × 10 26 . alignl { stack { size 12{N= { { \( 6 "." 0´"10" rSup { size 8{6} } " Ci" \) \( 3 "." 7´"10" rSup { size 8{"10"} } " Bq/Ci" \) \( "30" "." 2" y" \) \( 3 "." "16"´"10" rSup { size 8{7} } " s/y" \) } over {0 "." "693"} } } {} #" "=3 "." 1´"10" rSup { size 8{"26"} } "." {} } } {}

One mole of a nuclide A X size 12{"" lSup { size 8{A} } X} {} has a mass of A size 12{A} {} grams, so that one mole of 137 Cs size 12{"" lSup { size 8{"137"} } "Cs"} {} has a mass of 137 g. A mole has 6 . 02 × 10 23 size 12{6 "." "02 " times "10" rSup { size 8{"23"} } } {} nuclei. Thus the mass of 137 Cs size 12{"" lSup { size 8{"137"} } "Cs"} {} released was

m = 137 g 6.02 × 10 23 ( 3 . 1 × 10 26 ) = 70 × 10 3 g = 70 kg . alignl { stack { size 12{m= left ( { {"137"" g"} over {6 "." "02 "´"10" rSup { size 8{"23"} } } } right ) \( 3 "." 1´"10" rSup { size 8{"26"} } \) ="70"´"10" rSup { size 8{3} } " g"} {} #" "="70 kg" "." {} } } {}

Discussion

While 70 kg of material may not be a very large mass compared to the amount of fuel in a power plant, it is extremely radioactive, since it only has a 30-year half-life. Six megacuries (6.0 MCi) is an extraordinary amount of activity but is only a fraction of what is produced in nuclear reactors. Similar amounts of the other isotopes were also released at Chernobyl. Although the chances of such a disaster may have seemed small, the consequences were extremely severe, requiring greater caution than was used. More will be said about safe reactor design in the next chapter, but it should be noted that Western reactors have a fundamentally safer design.

Activity R size 12{R} {} decreases in time, going to half its original value in one half-life, then to one-fourth its original value in the next half-life, and so on. Since R = 0 . 693 N t 1 / 2 size 12{R= { {0 "." "693"N} over {t rSub { size 8{1/2} } } } } {} , the activity decreases as the number of radioactive nuclei decreases. The equation for R size 12{R} {} as a function of time is found by combining the equations N = N 0 e λt size 12{N=N rSub { size 8{0} } e rSup { size 8{ - λt} } } {} and R = 0 . 693 N t 1 / 2 size 12{R= { {0 "." "693"N} over {t rSub { size 8{1/2} } } } } {} , yielding

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of physics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 25, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11738/1.5
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