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Californium — Element Is Potential Game-Changer In Field Of Nuclear Waste Storage, Research Suggests

One of the least known — amongst the general public — elements of the periodic table, californium, may hold the key to the safe and effective long-term storage of nuclear/radioactive waste, according to new work from Florida State University.

The new work from chemists at that university has demonstrated that californium (Cf) has an “amazing” ability to bond and separate other materials, as well as being extremely resistant to radiation damage. A very interesting set of properties…

Image Credit: Florida State University

Image Credit: Florida State University

If you’re beginning to get the feeling that you’ve heard this all before, and wondering how useful any of this will really end up being, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The man behind the findings understands where you’re coming from.

“It’s almost like snake oil,” stated lead researcher Professor Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt. “It sounds almost too good to be true.”

But it apparently isn’t, and — according to Albrecht-Schmitt — should help researchers to design new, more-effective storage containers for radioactive waste, as well as likely aiding in the separation processes of radioactive fuel — potentially allowing for greater fuel recycling.

“This has real world application,” he reiterated. “It’s not purely an academic practice.”

“We’re changing how people look at californium and how it can be used.”

While the findings are certainly impressive, costs always need to be considered (even, or especially, with regard to things concerning nuclear waste). In this instance, the material in question is relatively expensive (the 5 milligrams used in this research cost $1.4 million), but not much of it necessarily necessary.

Despite the near-absolute necessity of beginning to deal with the issue of nuclear waste storage, if an approach is expensive, it will very likely not be used. We ‘ll keep you updated…

The new findings were just published in the latest edition of the journal Nature Chemistry.

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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