Nick Fetty | March 31, 2015
Research led by a University of Iowa graduate student has received national recognition for its focus on the most effective way to measure radium in flowback water (FBW).
Andrew Nelson – a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Human Toxicology – and his research team published a report last year entitled “Matrix Complications in the Determination of Radium Levels in Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback Water from Marcellus Shale” in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters. The report has recently been named one of the journal’s best papers of 2014.
The study found that “gamma-ray spectroscopy may provide a more accurate measurement of radium in byproduct water produced by hydraulic fracturing, compared with other methods of analysis.” The researchers studied FBW from the Marcellus Shale Region in northeastern Pennsylvania which was extracted from 2,100-meter deep fracking well.
Funding for the research was provided by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Management Solutions. Researchers with Quality Radioanalytical Support (Grand Marais, Minnesota) and Radiochemistry Laboratory Basics (The Villages, Florida) also contributed to the report.
Nelson came to the University of Iowa in 2012 and currently holds the UI Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship. He earned a B.A. in biochemistry from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2009 and a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2010.