The Department of Physics and Astronomy at UWC has been involved in several applied Nuclear projects during the last 20 years. The purpose of the research is to train students in Applied Nuclear Physics and to do research that is relevant to the South African environment.

Ongoing Projects

Uses for the Measurement of Natural Radioactivity in South Africa.

This project explores ways of extending the work initiated by the Geo-physics group at the KVI in the Netherlands for South African situations. This work has been expanded by a visit to Zanzibar where a heavy mineral sands deposit was studied. Gharib Mohammed is nearling completion The development of expertise in Gamma ray modelling

We are developing expertise in transport codes (such as MCNP and GEANT) for the modelling of the radioactivity in the soil as well as for detectors and radioactive beam transport.

The use of radon as a tracer.

Radon has been used widely in the USA as an indicator of pollution as a result of hydraulic fracturing. An MSc student (Mr Ryno Botha) has completed a degree on this project. We are also looking at a method of using radon and gamma rays to estimate submarine groundwater discharge. MSc project of a Masters student (Mr Norman Viviers).

A new project is to look at the data from the long term measurements of radon at Cape Point. This valuable data set will be interpreted in terms of different weather patterns and to look at possible climate change. PhD project of Mr Ryno Botha

Detection of Neutrinos

The eventual purpose of this project is the development of direction sensitive neutrino detectors. Such a detector could study the interior of the earth, but this could also study the nuclear reactor at Koeberg. A preliminary project measuring gamma rays at Koeberg is under way. We are also starting measurements in the Hugenot tunnel.

This has lead to an interest in measuring neutrons. The Bonner sphere system from iThemba LABS has been tried and we want to use this in more detail at Koeberg and in the tunnel.

Measurement of radon isotopes as radiation protection issue in South Africa

Radon and thoron have been identified as possible health risks in the home and in the workplace. The problems in South Africa relate to mining, houses in mining areas and in areas of high granite content in the soil. There is a possibility of a CNNS project to measurem radon in houses in South Africa.