CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world. Subscribe today!


Nuclear Energy 93036054_a7121baf3f

Published on March 16th, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill

0

Butterfly Molecule May Provide Key for Nuclear Waste Cleanup

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

March 16th, 2012 by  

 
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, working with colleagues from the US and Canada, have created a previously unseen uranium molecule that they believe could help in the cleanup of nuclear waste.

The butterfly-shaped uranium compound is similar to radioactive molecules that scientists have assumed are key components of nuclear waste. However, these compounds were thought to be too unstable to exist for very long. The researchers have found that their created compound is, in fact, robust, which suggests that the similar molecule within nuclear waste may be as well.

The scientists believe that their findings suggest the molecule may play a role in forming clusters of radioactive material in nuclear waste, something which is difficult to separate during cleanup.

However, by targeting this butterfly-type molecule in the treatment process for nuclear waste, the nuclear industry may, in fact, be able to create a more efficient cleanup system. In a perfect world, all radioactive materials from spent fuel could be recovered and made safe or even be reused. Let’s hope this moves us in that direction.

“We have made a molecule that, in theory, should not exist, because its bridge-shaped structure suggests it would quickly react with other chemicals,” said Professor Polly Arnold from the University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry. “This discovery that this particular form of uranium is so stable could help optimise processes to recycle valuable radioactive materials and so help manage the UK’s nuclear legacy.”

Source: University of Edinburgh
Image Source: Tim Collins, Plinkk on Flickr

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.



Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , ,


About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



Back to Top ↑