Progress in research to improve the safety of nuclear waste

Published: 03 Apr 2018 By Matt Cook

Recent work by a chemistry graduate may help researchers unravel the secrets to making nuclear waste safer. 

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A chemistry field graduate has potentially created a solution that could make nuclear waste safer. Matthew Fortunato has been researching and developing a mix of ingredients that could remove actinides from nuclear waste, a product that is regarded as the most volatile and long-living radioactive element as well as mercury.


Since the Cold War, the Department of Energy had produced tons of nuclear materials for the stockpiling of nuclear weapons in the US. Now, the nation is surrounded by radioactive materials from the process of weapons production. It is predicted that it may take some plants up to 100,000 years to be removed unless scientists create a solution that could potentially make nuclear waste safer and reusable. US-based government representatives have stressed the importance of cleaning up nuclear waste that remains across the country.


Scientists have been able to create molecules for testing and have boosted production of the molecules from an initial 10% to a 40% yield. Scientists are now working converting the molecules into a crystal, an essential step in understanding its ability to combine to harmful elements produced from nuclear waste.


Scientists believe this process could strengthen the nuclear industry and encourage the transition further away from fossil fuel generation.

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