Moscow researchers have made the supercritical carbon dioxide work. Saturated with special reagents, carbon dioxide first extracts uranium from the spent nuclear fuel waste, then extracts plutonium and then flies away into the atmosphere.
As a matter of fact, the spent nuclear fuel consists of multiple elements. First of all, this is uranium that did not burn out and plutonium obtained as a result of nuclear reaction and numerous fission fragments, both radio-active and non-radio-active. Uranium and plutonium are extracted first of all: on the one hand, they are very dangerous, and on the other hand, they can be used to produce new heat-generating elements for atomic power-plants.
The so-called Purex process is used worldwide to extract uranium and plutonium. Purex process is applied not because it is perfect, but because nothing better has been invented so far. The essence of the process is as follows: old fuel elements get dissolved in the nitric acid and a special reagent – tributylphosphate – catches what is required.
Sergey Komarov | EurekAlert!
22.02.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
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