Projects at ARSL

  • Ongoing and Future Projects

Applying Nuclear Activation Analysis to the Study of Toxic Elements in Cotton Seeds
Developing a Temporal Data Mining (TDM) System for In-Situ Decommissioning (ISD) Sensor Network Test Bed
Computer Simulations of Nuclear Processes and Fluid Dynamics
Web-based Spectra Analysis Software for Nuclear Activiation Analysis

  • Previous Projects

Radiochemistry/Health Physics/Nuclear Engineeering

Radiochemistry/Health Physics/Nuclear Engineering


The primary objective of the projects was to promote the research and education capacity of the nuclear science & engineering programs including: Radiochemistry, Health Physics, Nuclear Engineering, and Medical Physics at SC State University. Meanwhile, the project activities were designed in agreement with the missions of the DOE- Environmental Management Program. Accordingly, the project research activities have been carried out in the fields of nuclear detection technology and environmental radioactivity. As to the nuclear detection technology, the focus was on the detection of neutrons, which had become a hot topic in the homeland security applications because there were a growing requirement for the new generation detection technologies for fissile materials along the U.S. borders. As to the environmental radioactivity, concentration was placed on the radioactivity level of natural and artificial Radionuclides in the SC Edisto River Basin, which encompassed 30 watersheds and about 2 million acres of land.


Nearly all of Orangeburg County, a large portion of Lexington and Aiken, and some portions of Berkeley, Calhoun, and Dorchester, counties were included in the Edisto Basin. The Basin was also surrounded by nuclear facilities including the Savannah River National Laboratory at Aiken, Nuclear Waste Depository Site at Barnwell, Westinghouse Nuclear Fuel Assembly at Columbia, and the US Navy shipyard at Charleston. It is thus of great interest to study and monitor the level of background and artificial Radionuclides in the basin from the viewpoint of environmental protection and the well-being of the local citizens. Therefore, five research topics were conducted:

i) synthesis of boron-loaded organic scintillators for neutron detection;
ii)the radon emanation from a natural black mineral material in Lexington;
iii)the RaDeCC system for the detection of 223Ra and 224Ra;
iv) observation of the air-borne Radionuclides from Fukushima nuclear accident;
v) monitoring long-term atmospheric radioactive pollution with Spanish moss.

This project enhanced the research/education capability of South Carolina State University by providing the professors with research grant projects. A number of the university administrators and faculty members were included in the project.

Funds awarded provided stipend support for students, faculty, new faculty, and staff salaries as well as travel and indirect costs revenues for this subproject. DOE support also had an economic impact on both the institution and the state as shown below The results of the research have showed impact to the local community in improving the knowledge and understanding about the local environment, effect of human activities on the environment, and the influence of the environmental radioactivity to human health.

Research and Development:
Many presentations on the experimental results from the DOE-EM grant were presented during oral and poster presentations at various conferences and meetings. Table 6 list the poster and oral presentations.

Achievements I: Detection of Radon Gas on SCSU Campus

Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from soil, sand, water and the construction materials. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that the mitigation is necessary if radon radioactivity is over
4 pCi/L in the indoor air.

SC State University has been conducting a study on radon in the air and city water on SC State University campus using an Rn detector, RAD7. The following table shows some data gathered by the RAD7 test of radon in the air on the Campus. The radon activity in each detection was obtained by an average of counting in
1-2 hr. It is interesting to see that most locations show a radon activity well below 4 pCi/L. However, in one student Dorm area, the radon activity is 3.0 pCi/L. This abnormal value is attributed to the large amount of use of water at dinner time, when the detection was conducted.

Achivement II: Discovery of a Natural Black Material with Abnormally High Radioactivity

A natural material with abnormally high radioactivity was found at Red Bank Park, Lexington, South Carolina. This radioactive material is black mineral particles mixed in the sandy soil that is of heavy erosion. Due to the difference of the density, the black mineral particles are slowly washed down the hill and accumulated on the bed of water tracks.

The sample was collected and further separated from the common sand in the lab. According to the gamma spectrometric analysis, the sample is rich of U-238, U-235, and Th-232, and the daughter radionuclides in these decay series (see below).

This material will serve as a good natural sample for a kinetic study on the emanation of radon gas from solid rocks into groundwater.

Achievements III: Analysis of Radium Isotopes in Environmental Water

The following pictures show students along with Dr. Chang working on the Collection and Analysis of Radium Isotopes in Environmental Water.



Achivement IV: Detection of the Fission Products from Fukushima Nuclear Accident

SC State scientist have successfully detected the nuclear fallout in the atmosphere from the nuclear accident recently occurred in Fukushima, Japan. This success demonstrated the quick response of our laboratory to the environmental crisis and our research capability developed under the support of the DOE Environmental Management Grant.

The results achieved in this effort has been reported by the local newspaper and press network. The results were presented and published.