GAU is a financially independent research and consultancy unit operating at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS), which is involved in diverse aspects of pure and applied research, radioanalytical services, consultancy and training in radioactivity.
Formed in 1988 and headed by Dr Ian Croudace and Dr Phillip Warwick, GAU has a workforce of PhD qualified staff. It is an internationally recognised centre of expertise in environmental radioactivity and analytical radiochemistry.
It focuses on providing high-level expertise to its various clients in the nuclear industry but it also delivers a significant teaching and research function, which is integrated with its commercial activities. Undergraduates and postgraduates from NOCS benefit from advanced level courses and masters and PhD research projects. Since 1996, seven industrially-funded, nuclear-related PhD projects have been completed and the qualified individuals have remained in the Unit or found work in the nuclear sector.
GAU also provides expertise in radiochronological dating (lake and estuarine sediments), geochemical analysis and X-radiography to academia and other organisations in the petroleum, marine and geotechnical sectors. Publication of numerous papers in the international literature, often derived from the findings of its contract research, are also an important function of the Unit’s staff.
The gathering pace of decommissioning the UK’s early generation nuclear reactors and associated facilities provides significant opportunities for laboratories with suitable expertise. The fleet of the UK's ageing Magnox reactors and other nuclear research sites are all undergoing or scheduled for decommissioning. GAU, with its proven commercial consultancy capability is well-placed to play a significant role.
A crucial part of this process is efficient and effective waste characterisation, which involves the detailed analysis of radionuclide activities to allow site project managers to evaluate the appropriate route for waste sentencing of reactor materials. GAU-Radioanalytical has carried out extensive radiometric work at six of the Magnox sites undergoing decommissioning and provided support to other Tier2 and Tier 3 contractors.
Since 2000, approximately 1,000 separate contracts have been undertaken for 20 organisations.
GAU's facilities include:
- Canberra well-type detectors HPGe gamma ray spectrometers
- Canberra standard high-purity germanium spectrometers
- Canberra LEGe™ and 1 Ortec LOAX™ high resolution X-ray/gamma ray spectrometer
- portable Canberra HPGe detector system (ISOCS characterised)
- Ortec Transpec™ portable HPGe system
- alpha spectrometry units
- Quantulus™ ultra-low background liquid scintillation counters
- Pyrolyser-Trio™ 3H-14C combustion systems
- Tennelec gas-flow proportional counter for gross a-ß analysis
- Philips Magix-PRO™ WD-X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer
- Panalytical Epsilon 5™ Polarised XRF System
- HP Faxitron X-radiography system with an NTB EZ240 digital scanner