Mangalore University will develop a technique to measure two environmentally important radionuclides (also called radioisotopes). The Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), under the Department of Atomic Energy, has sanctioned nearly Rs. 6 crore for the project — a record for the university.

Debanik Roy, Scientist and Programme Officer, BRNS, told The Hindu on Tuesday that the two radionuclides to be studied are carbon-14 and tritium-3, naturally present in environment. A radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus.

Tritium-3 is naturally present in water, especially in sea water, and carbon-14 is present in air, soil or plant, according to Karunakara N, Assistant Professor, radioecology laboratory, USIC (University Science Instrumentation Centre at Mangalagangotri).

Dr. Roy was at the university on Tuesday in connection with the inauguration of a five-day training meant for researchers from different institutions in the country on ‘measurement of radionuclides in environmental materials’. The training was being jointly offered by the BRNS and radioecology laboratory, USIC.

MoU

“The Nuclear Reactor and Fuel Cycle Committee of the BRNS has sanctioned the fund. The university and the BRNS will have to sign a memorandum of understanding before releasing the fund. The draft of the MoU is being prepared,” Dr. Roy said.

Dr. Roy said the USIC would be able to procure equipment required for the project with the funds. The fund sanctioned would be for a period of three years. Depending on the success of developing the technique, the project could be extended for another two years with an additional grant.

Dr. Roy said that the USIC was selected based on the track record of the centre in nuclear research. The USIC was making best use of equipment purchased from the BRNS grants earlier. “We have faith in the university led by its Vice-Chancellor T.C. Shivashankara Murthy,” he said.

Dr. Roy said that currently no “specialised procedure” was available in the country for measuring the two environmentally important radionuclides in the environmental samples. No consolidated work had been done in this regard.

Dr. Karunakara said that after developing the technique it would be transferred to the BRNS. The USIC would use it for studying the levels of the said two radionuclides in environment especially around Kaiga atomic power station. This would help to ensure that the release of the said two radionuclides from the Kaiga station is maintained within the internationally prescribed-levels of release.