Iodine radioisotopes are produced by fission of uranium fuel in a nuclear reactor. Radioactive iodine is of concern because it is highly mobile in the environment and selective uptake by the thyroid gland can pose a significant cancer risk following long term exposure.
Furthermore, iodine-129, which is a type of radioactive iodine, has an extremely long half life of 15.7 million years, so is one of the most significant long term hazards faced by the population due to its emission during the geological disposal of nuclear waste.
Professor Neil Hyatt, from the University´s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has now found a way of locking up iodine radioisotopes in a durable, solid material suitable for ultimate disposal, like lead iodovanadinite(Pb5(VO4)3I). The research, which was published in the Journal of Nuclear Materials, demonstrates how his simple, inexpensive and rapid method can be done at atmospheric pressure.
Professor Hyatt and his team created a solid material for immobilisation of iodine with the formula Pb5(VO4)3I, by heating a mixture of lead iodide, lead oxide and vanadium oxide.
Previously, this has only been achieved using high pressure and a sealed container, because iodine is volatilised at high temperature. However, using the knowledge that vanadium is a good absorber of microwaves at 2.45 GHz – the frequency used in domestic microwave ovens – the team were able to heat the mixture of chemicals in a microwave oven to produce Pb5(VO4)3I in about three minutes.
The key to the method´s success is that Pb5(VO4)3I is a poor absorber of 2.45 GHz microwaves, so once this is formed, the sample cannot absorb microwaves, so the temperature does not get high enough for the iodine to volatilise.
Iodine-131 was the harmful gas emitted from the Fukushima power plant in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami last month, and was a significant contributor to the health effects from open-air atomic bomb testing in the 1950s, and was also emitted during the Chernobyl disaster. It is hoped the new research will reduce the public health impact associated with the release of radioactive iodine to the environment by providing a simple and inexpensive method of immobilisation in a solid material, which could be rapidly deployed in an accident scenario.
Professor Neil Hyatt, said: "In spent nuclear fuel, the iodine is not immobilised, so once the containment is breached it simply gets dispersed. At present, iodine-129 released by nuclear fuel reprocessing is discharged direct to the Irish Sea off the coast of Sellafield. Substantial quantities of this radioisotope were also released into the sea off the coast of Japan in the Fukushima incident. Our new method offers a way of safely and rapidly containing this radionuclide, reducing the potential long term impact on human health from discharge to the environment."
Shemina Davis | EurekAlert!
Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet
18.08.2017 | Aalto University
Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter
17.08.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences