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 Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

nachricht Snap, Digest, Respire
20.01.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>