Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nanoparticles, Super-absorbent Gel Clean Radioactivity From Porous Structures

Date:
July 16, 2004
Source:
Argonne National Laboratory
Summary:
Porous structures, such as brick and concrete, are notoriously hard to clean when contaminated with certain types of radioactive materials. Now, thanks to researchers in Argonne's Chemical Engineering Division, a new technique is being developed that can effectively decontaminate these structures in the event of exposure to radioactive elements.

SUPERGEL – Argonne researchers are designing a system to safely capture and dispose of radioactive elements in porous structures outdoors, such as buildings and monuments, using this spray-on, super-absorbent gel and engineered nanoparticles. Such a system would help the nation be more prepared in the event of a terrorist attack with a “dirty bomb” or other radioactive dispersal device.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

ARGONNE, Ill. (July 2, 2004) – Porous structures, such as brick and concrete, are notoriously hard to clean when contaminated with certain types of radioactive materials. Now, thanks to researchers in Argonne's Chemical Engineering Division, a new technique is being developed that can effectively decontaminate these structures in the event of exposure to radioactive elements.

Researchers are using engineered nanoparticles and a super-absorbent gel to design a clean-up system for buildings and monuments exposed to radioactive materials. Having this system available will allow the nation to be more prepared in case of a terrorist attack with a “dirty bomb” or other radioactive dispersal device.

“If a radioactive device were activated in public, the primary concern would be widespread contamination,” said Michael Kaminski, lead scientist of the project. “This contamination is particularly hard to remove in buildings made from brick or concrete, where the pores, or holes, in those materials make it easy for radioactive materials to become trapped.”

Enter Kaminski and his team of Argonne scientists, whose decontamination system could safely capture and dispose of radioactive elements in porous structures in an outdoor environment. Using a simple, three-step procedure, the system operates much like an automated car wash, where remote spray washers apply a wetting agent and a super-absorbent gel onto the contaminated surface. The wetting agent causes the bound radioactivity to resuspend in the pores. The super-absorbent polymer gel then draws the radioactivity out of the pores, and fixes it in the engineered nanoparticles that sit in the gel. Finally, the gel is vacuumed and recycled, leaving only a small amount of radioactive waste.

“The polymer gel we use to absorb the radioactivity is similar to the absorbent material that's found in disposable diapers,” Kaminski explained. “When exposed to a wetting agent, the polymers start to cross-link, forming something like a structural scaffold that allows the gel to absorb an incredible amount of liquid.”

The Argonne technique would overcome many of the shortcomings of current radioactive decontamination operations.

“Right now, it is common practice to demolish the contaminated materials in hopes of getting rid of the radioactivity. Our technique would allow surfaces to be preserved, which means that we wouldn't have to deface monuments or buildings just to remove the radiation,” said Kaminski.

The group has 18 months to complete development of the decontamination method. The project will culminate in a prototype demonstration of the technology using real contaminated concrete samples. This work is being done as part of an interagency Technical Support Working Group project selected from more than 3,000 submitted in May 2003 and funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

Kaminski's group is also developing other technologies for biomedical and military applications, using magnetic nanoparticles. Experience in that work, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, led to the super-absorbent gel project and other work for defense and homeland security applications.

"Within our group, we are combining our experience from the past several years in areas of nuclear power plant decontamination, engineered nanoparticles and polymer gels to develop this new decontamination technology," Kaminski says. "It has provided a potential solution to one of the key challenges in counter-terrorism."

###

The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory conducts basic and applied scientific research across a wide spectrum of disciplines, ranging from high-energy physics to climatology and biotechnology. Since 1990, Argonne has worked with more than 600 companies and numerous federal agencies and other organizations to help advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for the future. Argonne is operated by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Argonne National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Argonne National Laboratory. "Nanoparticles, Super-absorbent Gel Clean Radioactivity From Porous Structures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040715081025.htm>.
Argonne National Laboratory. (2004, July 16). Nanoparticles, Super-absorbent Gel Clean Radioactivity From Porous Structures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040715081025.htm
Argonne National Laboratory. "Nanoparticles, Super-absorbent Gel Clean Radioactivity From Porous Structures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/07/040715081025.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins