14 May 2015 09:49

Hybrid Instruments Limited and Lancaster University have entered a collaboration agreement for a project to develop a prototype device to measure the radioactive material  tritium.

The project, entitled TRIBECA (Tritium detection By ElectroChemically Assisted radiometrics), is a 12-month Feasibility Study to explore if a technology developed during the PhD studies of Ghebrehiwot Behane (formerly of the Lloyds’ Register Foundation International Joint Research Centre for the Safety of Nuclear Energy in Lancaster’s Engineering Department) , can be turned into a prototype instrument.  Using recent advances in nanomaterials fabrication and radiometrics the instrument will detect and measure water-borne tritium with exceptional sensitivity for potential applications in nuclear decommissioning.

To facilitate the knowledge transfer necessary, Ghebrehiwot is now employed by the company.

The project is co-funded by Hybrid Instruments and a funding award of £123,313 from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. The award was made as part of Innovate UK’s Collaborative R&D Programme – Developing the civil nuclear supply chain. The University will receive funding of £43,786.

Specialist measurement facilities will be provided in Lancaster Environment Centre and the National Physical Laboratory, NPL, will be sub-contracted to assess the validity of resulting measurements.

Dr Frank Cave, Commercial Director of Hybrid Instruments, comments

“Our business was founded on technology developed at Lancaster and we have maintained a close relationship with researchers in the Engineering Department. We believe the technology researched by Ghebrehiwot has market potential and were happy to support his PhD studies. We are very pleased that this award gives us the opportunity to take the development to the next stage.”

Professor Colin Boxall, Director of the Lloyds’ Register Foundation International Joint Research Centre for the Safety of Nuclear Energy adds

“This project presents a unique opportunity to blend state of the art nanomaterials synthesis with cutting-edge radiometrics in service to tritium detection. We are excited by the partnership with Hybrid, the research itself and the prospect for making real impact in addressing a long-standing problem in nuclear analytical science.”