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Identification of a Radioactive Contaminated Polymer

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Project Objective
A piece of radioactive contaminated foreign material, which looked like a hard rubber or plastic, was found by a client. The initial inspection did not result in recognition of either the material type or where this piece came from. The project objective was to identify the contaminated unknown polymer.
Scope of Work
The scope of work was to identify the material composition of the foreign polymer. Several actions and tests were planned, including: receipt of radioactive shipment at Kinectrics Radioactive Laboratory, performing incoming radiation surveys, visual and microscopy examinations, preparing Job Safety Analysis and obtaining radioactive work permits, obtaining a clean sample from the center of the material, performing Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) pyrolysis (also in ATR mode) to identify the material, performing Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA) to obtain information about the material formulation, performing Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) to identify material characteristics, and performing Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) to detect non-organic components.
The visual inspection of the unknown sample showed that it was a hard material with some melting features in various parts. The FTIR tests (ATR and pyrolysis) showed that the material belongs to the family of polyamides. The DSC results confirmed that the material belongs to the family of polyamides and more specifically, that it likely is Polyamide 6,6 (Nylon 6,6).
The TGA results suggested that the material is mainly made of the Polyamide 6,6 polymer (~96%) with some carbon based filler (~4%). The ICP-MS results confirm that the material contains very small quantities of some elements (including calcium, iron, titanium, and sulphur) as a result of manufacturing or, that the material might have been exposed to in the field.
Based on the examination performed on the foreign material, it was concluded that the radioactive contaminated foreign material belongs to the family of polyamides, more specifically Polyamide 6,6 (Nylon 6,6), and it was made mainly of the Polyamide 6,6 polymer (~96%) with some carbon based filler (~4%).

About This Case Study

Industry Sector

  • Generation

Generation Type

  • Nuclear

Nature of Service

  • Analysis
  • |
  • Testing - Lab Services

Client Assets

  • Fuel Channels

Kinetrics Facilities

  • Materials Testing and Structural Integrity
  • |
  • Radioactive Materials Laboratory


  • FTIR
  • |
  • mass spectrometry
  • |
  • material characteristics
  • |
  • Ratioactive
  • |
  • pyrolysis
  • |
  • Contaminated
  • |
  • Polymer