Research by a team of Sandia chemists could impact worldwide efforts to produce clean, safe nuclear energy and reduce radioactive waste.
The Sandia researchers have used metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to capture and remove volatile radioactive gas from spent nuclear fuel. “This is one of the first attempts to use a MOF for iodine capture,” said chemist Tina Nenoff of Sandia’s Surface and Interface Sciences Department.
The discovery could be applied to nuclear fuel reprocessing or to clean up nuclear reactor accidents. A characteristic of nuclear energy is that used fuel can be reprocessed to recover fissile materials and provide fresh fuel for nuclear power plants. Countries such as France, Russia and India are reprocessing spent fuel.
The process also reduces the volume of high-level wastes, a key concern of the Sandia researchers. “The goal is to find a methodology for highly selective separations that result in less waste being interred,” Nenoff said.