Despite the University of Notre Dame being bested by Xavier University during 2012 NCAA March Madness basketball, the Indiana institution still scores well when it comes to research aimed at producing cleaner energy.
Indeed, a new paper by researchers led by Thomas E. Albrecht-Schmitt, professor of civil engineering and geological sciences and concurrent professor of chemistry and biochemistry, showcases Notre Dame Thorium Borate-1 (NDTB-1) as a crystalline compound that can be tailored to safely absorb radioactive ions from nuclear waste streams. Once captured, the radioactive ions can then be exchanged for higher-charged species of a similar size, recycling the material for re-use.
According to an article on the Notre Dame website, “The framework of the NDTB-1 is key,” says Albrecht-Schmitt. “Each crystal contains a framework of channels and cages featuring billions of tiny pores, which allow for the interchange of anions with a variety of environmental contaminants, especially those used in the nuclear industry, such as chromate and pertechnetate.”
Albrecht-Schmitt’s team has concluded successful laboratory studies using the NDTB-1 crystals, during which they removed approximately 96% of 99Tc. Additional field tests conducted at the Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, S.C., and discussed in the paper have shown that the Notre Dame compound successfully removes 99Tc from nuclear waste and also exhibits positive exchange selectivity for greater efficiency.
Senior Digital Editor