Groundbreaking work by a team of chemists on a fringe element of the periodic table could change how the world stores radioactive waste and recycles fuel.
The element is called californium — Cf if you’re looking at the Periodic Table of Elements — and it’s what Florida State Professor Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt, the lead researcher on the project, calls “wicked stuff.”
In carefully choreographed experiments, Albrecht-Schmitt and his colleagues found that californium had amazing abilities to bond and separate other materials. They also found it was extremely resistant to radiation damage.
“It’s almost like snake oil,” he said. “It sounds almost too good to be true.”
Albrecht-Schmitt said that the discoveries could help scientists build new storage containers for radioactive waste, plus help separate radioactive fuel, which means the fuel could be recycled.
“This has real world application,” he said. “It’s not purely an academic practice.”
Albrecht-Schmitt’s work, “Unusual Structure, Bonding, and Properties in a Californium Borate,” appears published in the newest edition of Nature Chemistry.
But, running the experiments and collecting the data were not small tasks.
After years of working with the U.S. Department of Energy, Albrecht-Schmitt obtained 5 milligrams of californium costing $1.4 million, paid for through an endowment to the university in honor of retired professor Gregory Choppin.
But that tiny, expensive element has opened a whole new world of nuclear chemistry.
“We’re changing how people look at californium and how it can be used,” Albrecht-Schmitt said.
All of the experiments were conducted at Florida State, but Albrecht-Schmitt also worked with theorists and scientists from nine universities and institutes, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which supplied the californium.
David A. Dixon, professor of chemistry at the University of Alabama, and his graduate student, Ted Garner, provided the calculations and theory on why the californium could bond in such unique ways, while scientists at Argonne National Laboratory helped correlate the theory with the experiments. Evgeny Alekseev and Wulf Depmeier of Germany also provided an improved understanding on the atomic structure of californium.
Kathleen Haughney | newswise
27.03.2015 | Oak Ridge National Laboratory
How did the chicken cross the sea?
27.03.2015 | Michigan State University
In an experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as...
The IPH presents a solution at HANNOVER MESSE 2015 to make ship traffic more reliable while decreasing the maintenance costs at the same time. In cooperation with project partners, the research institute from Hannover, Germany, has developed a sensor system which continuously monitors the condition of the marine gearbox, thus preventing breakdowns. Special feature: the monitoring system works wirelessly and energy-autonomously. The required electrical power is generated where it is needed – directly at the sensor.
As well as cars need to be certified regularly (in Germany by the TÜV – Technical Inspection Association), ships need to be inspected – if the powertrain stops...
When an earthquake hits, the faster first responders can get to an impacted area, the more likely infrastructure--and lives--can be saved.
The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe.
Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been...
Because they are regularly subjected to heavy vehicle traffic, emissions, moisture and salt, above- and underground parking garages, as well as bridges, frequently experience large areas of corrosion. Most inspection systems to date have only been capable of inspecting smaller surface areas.
From April 13 to April 17 at the Hannover Messe (hall 2, exhibit booth C16), engineers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP will be...
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
17.03.2015 | Event News
27.03.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
27.03.2015 | Materials Sciences
27.03.2015 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation