Various Tritiated Water Samples

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the turnaround time for samples
A: Sample preparation, holding and analysis times vary depending on the number of samples you need analyzed and the type of samples you provide us. For example, tritium samples can take 2 to 6 month due to the time required to allow the ingrowth of helium-3 to measurable levels.

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Q: Where do I send my samples?
A: Dissolved and Noble Gas Lab
      University of Utah
      115 South 1460 East, Room 205
      Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0102

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Q: I have some narrow monitoring wells, what is the diameter of your advanced diffusion sampler?
A: Our advanced diffusion sampler is close to 1" (25.4 mm) at its widest point. We have produced a narrower option with a diameter of 0.79" (20 mm) and are looking at producing even smaller versions.

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Q: Do you analyze stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen?
A: We do not analyze stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen, but we can direct you to the nearby Stable Isotope Ratio For Environmental Research (SIRFER) laboratory. You will need to contact them directly as we are not directly associated with their facilities.

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Q: I would like some 3H/3He age dating performed on my sites, what are my options for sample collection?
A: We will need two samples from you: One will be 1000 ml of water collected for tritium analysis through helium ingrowth. The other sample is for the measurement of dissolved helium-3. We accept three different sampling forms for this: copper tubes, standard diffusion samplers, and advanced diffusion samplers. For more information on these sampling methods, please see our how-to section.

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Q: How large of samples do I need to send?
A: For tritium samples, we need 500 ml to process, but require 1000 ml so extra water is available in the case of sample or equipment problems.

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Q: What type of container(s) should I send my tritium samples in?
A: A variety of bottles are acceptable for tritium samples. They can either be glass or plastic. One 1000 ml bottle is acceptable, but we prefer two 500 ml bottles. Please avoid thin-walled 'bottled water' bottles, and please tape bottles shut to avoid leakage during shipment. For examples of bottles, please see our tritium collection notes here.

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Q: How do you measure tritium?
A: There is more than one way to measure tritium. Scintillation is one method, however we use the helium-ingrowth method. In a sealed, degassed flask, tritiated water is allowed to decay into 3He. This gas is then let into the mass spectrometer. Knowing the amount of helium created as well as the time allowed for decay, the original amount of tritium can be calculated.

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Q: Who should I contact for more information?
A: Please contact Alan Rigby or Kip Solomon if you need additional information.

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