Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Understanding the Chemistry of Ionic Liquids for Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing

12.09.2006
With the rising cost and dwindling supply of fossil fuels, nuclear power may again be considered a plausible energy option in the U.S. Safety is the public’s major concern, and researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory are addressing one important aspect of that issue by investigating materials called ionic liquids. If these liquid salts were to be used in nuclear fuel reprocessing – the chemical removal of reusable nuclear material from spent nuclear reactor fuel – the risk of unintended nuclear chain reactions may be substantially reduced.

At the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco, Brookhaven Lab chemist James Wishart will present his research on how ionic liquids containing the element boron react with radiation. His talk will be given at the Grand Hyatt Hotel’s Dolores Room on Monday, September 11, at 3:20 p.m. Pacific Time.

Ionic liquids, which contain only electrically charged molecules known as ions, have several properties that make them attractive as an alternative medium for nuclear fuel reprocessing. These include low volatility, low combustibility, and resistance to being electrochemically oxidized or reduced. In 2001, researchers at DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory calculated that reprocessing plutonium in boron-containing ionic liquids could substantially reduce the risk of nuclear accidents that involve unintended chain reactions. A particular isotope of boron can “poison” a chain reaction by strongly absorbing the neutrons that propagate the chain.

“Compared to current aqueous systems used for reprocessing plutonium, boron-containing ionic liquids can hold up to a hundred times more dissolved plutonium before reaching the critical threshold – that is, before the plutonium sustains a nuclear chain reaction,” Wishart said. “Thus, there would be far less chance of an accident.”

There are several ways to include boron in ionic liquids. One direct way is to make ionic liquids using negatively charged ions, called anions, that contain boron. This method may not produce a liquid with the melting point or viscosity needed. Another way is to add a material containing a lot of boron – for example, carborane – to an ionic liquid with the desired melting point, viscosity and other properties.

Brookhaven’s Wishart and former postdoctoral researchers Tomasz Szreder and Alison Funston, with collaborators from the University of California, Riverside, have investigated the radiation chemistry of ionic liquids prepared from carborane and a boron-containing anion. They found that electrons ejected from molecules by radiation leads to decomposition of the carborane. To prevent this decomposition, the researchers propose including positively charged ions, like pyridinium, that can intercept the electrons before they react with the carborane. The reactions are reversible so the materials can be used over and over again.

“In U.S. nuclear power reactors, the fuel is only used once-through and a lot of energy remains in the spent fuel that is destined for disposal,” Wishart said. “In the future, we may instead reprocess fuel to use in current reactors and in a new type of reactor now under development. We would extract more energy from the same amount of natural resources and produce less nuclear waste. Advanced reprocessing would also reduce long-lived radioactive waste. The ionic liquids that we study could be a better medium for reprocessing nuclear fuel and nuclear waste than the currently used media.”

DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the Office of Science and Brookhaven’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program funded this research.

Kay Cordtz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bnl.gov

Further reports about: Nuclear Plutonium Wishart carborane ionic ionic liquids reactor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>