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To analyze plutonium (Pu) in open ocean waters can be challenging due to the low seawater concentrations. In this study we compared two techniques for Pu determination, one in-situ MnO cartridge system and the more commonly used MnO precipitation technique. During the pre-pilot GEOTRACES cruise ANT XXX-1 (2005) we tested MnO cartridges for the pre-concentration of Pu from seawater at 19 sampling stations on a transect in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean between Vigo (Spain) and Cape Town (South Africa). Our in-situ sampling setup consisted of one particle cartridge followed by three MnO cartridges in a series. Through the system we pumped between 956 and 2700 l of surface seawater with a flow rate between 1.6 and 5.2 l/min. We found that the adsorption efficiency of a single MnO cartridge to adsorb Pu was rather constant and on average a 58 ± 7%. The adsorption efficiency was also found to be independent of seawater: temperature in the range of 18.3-29.2 °C, salinity range 34.2-37.1‰, and conductivity in the range of 46.8-58.4 mS/cm. In parallel with the in-situ sampling, discrete surface water samples between 259 and 281 l were taken and Pu was pre-concentrated using the MnO precipitation method. We find a good agreement between the Pu concentrations determined with the two different techniques. The in-situ pre-concentration technique requires more radiochemical work in the laboratory but has the advantage that large seawater volumes can be sampled without the necessity for radiochemical processing on-board the ship. The much larger volumes sampled with the in-situ technique compared with the precipitation technique, enables accurate determination of Pu-isotopic ratios with a low relative standard deviation. We have shown in this study that in-situ MnO cartridge technique can be used in a reliable way for the determination of dissolved Pu seawater concentration in open ocean waters.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of environmental radioactivity
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Plutonium. A naturally radioactive element of the actinide metals series. It has the atomic symbol Pu, atomic number 94, and atomic weight 242. Plutonium is used as a nuclear fuel, to produce radioisotopes for research, in radionuclide batteries for pacemakers, and as the agent of fission in nuclear weapons.
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An iron chelating agent with properties like EDETIC ACID. DTPA has also been used as a chelator for other metals, such as plutonium.
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