Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rutgers-led research could revolutionize nuclear waste reprocessing and save money

01.11.2017

A 'molecular trap' for capturing radioactive iodides in nuclear waste

Seeking a better way to capture radioactive iodides in spent nuclear reactor fuel, Rutgers-New Brunswick scientists have developed an extremely efficient "molecular trap" that can be recycled and reused.


These are two types of cages in the crystal structure of the metal-organic framework, MIL-101-Cr. The yellow spheres represent the pore space for capturing radioactive iodides and have diameters of 29 and 34 angstroms, respectively. An angstrom is one 10 millionth of a millimeter.

Credit: Hao Wang/Rutgers University-New Brunswick

The trap is like a tiny, porous super-sponge. The internal surface area of just one gram of this material could stretch out to cover five 94-by-50-foot basketball courts, or 23,500 square feet. And, once caught inside, radioactive iodides will remain trapped for eons.

"This type of material has tremendous potential because of its high porosity," said Jing Li, distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. "It has far more space than a sponge and it can trap lots of stuff."

Li is corresponding author of a study on molecular traps for nuclear fuel reprocessing that was published in Nature Communications. The first author is Baiyan Li, a former postdoctoral associate in Li's group, and other Rutgers co-authors include doctoral students Hao Wang and Benjamin J. Deibert.

Reprocessing means separating spent nuclear reactor fuel into materials that may be recycled for use in new nuclear fuel or discarded as waste, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The U.S. has no commercial reprocessing facilities at the moment, but commercial facilities are operating in other countries.

When spent fuel is reprocessed, radioactive molecular iodine and organic iodide gases that pose cancer and environmental risks must be captured and sequestered. The long-lived gases are hard to capture and can leak into the environment, the Rutgers study says.

Solid adsorbents like silver-infused silica, alumina and zeolites can capture iodides, but their low uptake capacity and poor recyclability make them inefficient and costly, according to Li, who works in the School of Arts and Sciences.

So Rutgers and other researchers developed a "molecular trap" that is made of a highly porous metal-organic framework. Its performance exceeds the standard set by nuclear industry rules, which require waste reprocessing plants to remove more than 99.9 percent of radioactive iodides from spent nuclear fuel rods.

It also far outperforms all current industrial materials in adsorbing, or binding to, radioactive organic iodides. For example, its ability to adsorb methyl iodide at 302 degrees Fahrenheit exceeds that of a benchmark industrial product by more than 340 percent.

Another benefit of the Rutgers molecular trap is that captured methyl iodide can be removed from metal-organic frameworks, enabling their recycling and reuse. This is not possible with current industrial products, from which adsorbent must be sequestered along with captured radioactive iodides.

The metal-organic framework is also cheaper than existing products because it doesn't use silver or other precious metals, and is very robust, able to handle harsh reprocessing conditions such as high temperatures, high acidity and high humidity, Li said.

"We're off to a very good start and we'd like to make improvements," Li said. "Eventually, we hope it can be commercialized."

Media Contact

Todd B.Bates
todd.bates@rutgers.edu
848-932-0550

 @RutgersU

http://www.rutgers.edu 

Todd B.Bates | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past
21.02.2020 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht 10,000 times faster calculations of many-body quantum dynamics possible
21.02.2020 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A step towards controlling spin-dependent petahertz electronics by material defects

The operational speed of semiconductors in various electronic and optoelectronic devices is limited to several gigahertz (a billion oscillations per second). This constrains the upper limit of the operational speed of computing. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg, Germany, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay have explained how these processes can be sped up through the use of light waves and defected solid materials.

Light waves perform several hundred trillion oscillations per second. Hence, it is natural to envision employing light oscillations to drive the electronic...

Im Focus: Freiburg researcher investigate the origins of surface texture

Most natural and artificial surfaces are rough: metals and even glasses that appear smooth to the naked eye can look like jagged mountain ranges under the microscope. There is currently no uniform theory about the origin of this roughness despite it being observed on all scales, from the atomic to the tectonic. Scientists suspect that the rough surface is formed by irreversible plastic deformation that occurs in many processes of mechanical machining of components such as milling.

Prof. Dr. Lars Pastewka from the Simulation group at the Department of Microsystems Engineering at the University of Freiburg and his team have simulated such...

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Active droplets

21.02.2020 | Medical Engineering

Finding new clues to brain cancer treatment

21.02.2020 | Health and Medicine

Beyond the brim, Sombrero Galaxy's halo suggests turbulent past

21.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>