Natural Tritium Measurements by Ethane Counting

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Science  25 Aug 1961:
Vol. 134, Issue 3478, pp. 552-553
DOI: 10.1126/science.134.3478.552


A method is described for the synthesis of ethane from hydrogen that is at present used for the counting of low-level tritium activity at the La Jolla tritium laboratory. The reaction procedure is simple and involves the mixing of the hydrogen with acetylene over a colloidal palladium catalyst. Counting characteristics of ethane are found to be ideal. With a 1-liter counter filled to three atmospheres of ethane, only a tenfold tritium enrichment is necessary in order to obtain a sensitivity of 0.32 counts per minute per tritium unit.