Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nuclear waste reduction: Polymers designed to mop up radioactive isotopes

Date:
November 28, 2009
Source:
Technische Universitaet Dortmund
Summary:
Nuclear power could solve our energy problems but it has rather nasty by-products: radioactive waste. Not only the disposal of the old core rods but also reactor operation results in a large amount of low-level waste, especially contaminated cooling water. Scientists have now developed a new method to reduce the amount of this radioactive waste considerably. They use small beads consisting of a special polymer which “fishes” the radioactivity out of the water.

Nuclear power could solve our energy problems but it has rather nasty by-products: radioactive waste. Not only the disposal of the old core rods but also reactor operation results in a large amount of low-level waste, especially contaminated cooling water.

Together with his colleague Sevilimendu Narasimhan from the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Kalpakkam, India, the chemist PD Dr. Bφrje Sellergren from the Institute of Environmental Research at Technische Universitδt Dortmund has developed a new method to reduce the amount of this radioactive waste considerably. His approach: small beads consisting of a special polymer which "fishes" the radioactivity out of the water.

In pressurized-water reactors, the most common reactor, hot water circulates at high pressure through the steel pipes, dissolving metal ions from the walls of the pipes. When the water is pumped through the reactor's core, these ions are bombarded by neutrons.

Because the pipes are steel pipes, most of the ions are common iron-isotopes (56 Fe), which don't become radioactive when bombarded by neutrons. But the steel in the pipes is usually alloyed with cobalt. And when this cobalt absorbs neutrons, an instable cobalt-isotope (60 Co) emerges which is radioactive with a half-life of more than five years.

Usually the water is cleaned with ion exchangers. But this technique has a crucial disadvantage, because it doesn't differentiate between non-radioactive iron-ions and radioactive cobalt-ions.

To overcome this problem, Sellergren and Narasimhan were looking for a material which binds cobalt and not iron. They developed a special polymer which is made through a procedure called "molecular imprinting." This polymer is made in an environment containing cobalt. Then the cobalt-ions are extracted with hydrochloric acid, meaning that they are virtually "washed out." The resulting cobalt-sized holes -- the imprinting -- are able to trap cobalt -- and just cobalt -- in other environments. The result: a small amount of this polymer can mop up a large amount of radioactive isotopes.

The team is now forming the polymer into small beads that can pass through the cooling system of a nuclear-power station. They expect that it would be more economical and environment-friendly to concentrate radioactivity into such beads than to dispose of large amounts of low-level waste. There obviously is a demand. Some 40 new nuclear-power stations are being built around the world. And the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that a further 70 will be built in the next 15 years.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Technische Universitaet Dortmund. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Technische Universitaet Dortmund. "Nuclear waste reduction: Polymers designed to mop up radioactive isotopes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127123921.htm>.
Technische Universitaet Dortmund. (2009, November 28). Nuclear waste reduction: Polymers designed to mop up radioactive isotopes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127123921.htm
Technische Universitaet Dortmund. "Nuclear waste reduction: Polymers designed to mop up radioactive isotopes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091127123921.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
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
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 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

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