IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Electrical charge processes: Non-radioactive aerosols in a highly ionized environment, - Artificial beta emitter aerosols.

François Gensdarmes, doctorate thesis of the Sciences faculty of Créteil, 258 p., defended on the 11th July 2000


The electrical properties of aerosols greatly influence their transport and deposition in a containment. In a bipolar ionic atmosphere, a neutral electric charge on aerosols is commonly assumed. However, many studies report a different charge distribution in some situations, like highly ionised atmosphere or in the case of radioactive aerosols. Such situations could arise from a hypothetical accident in a nuclear power plant. Within the framework of safety studies which are carried out at IPSN, our aims were the study of electrical properties of aerosols in highly ionised atmosphere, and the study of artificial radioactive aerosols, in order to suggest experimental validation of available theories. For this purpose, we designed an experimental device that allows us to measure non-radioactive aerosol charge distribution under high gamma irradiation, up to 104 Gy/h. With our experimental device we also studied the properties of small ions in the medium. Our results show a variation of the charge distribution in highly ionised atmosphere. The charge increases with the dose of gamma ray. We have related this variation with the one of the small ions in the gases, according to theoretical prediction. However, the model overestimates slightly our experimental results. In the case of the radioactive aerosols, we have designed an original experimental device, which allows us to study the charge distribution of a 137Cs aerosol. Our results show that the electric charging of such aerosols is strongly dependent on evolution parameters in a containment. So, our results underline a great enhancement of self-charging of particles which are sampled in a confined medium. Our results are qualitatively in agreement with the theoretical model; nevertheless the latter underestimates appreciably the self-charging, owing to the fact that wall effects are not taken into account.


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