Friday, September 19, 2008

reactor waste

clipped from news.ninemsn.com.au

The potential breakthrough for the environment was made by a team of scientists from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), led by Associate Professor Zhu Huai Yong from the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.

"Water is used to cool nuclear reactors and during the mining and purification of nuclear material, so waste water is a big problem.

"We have created ceramic nanofibres which attract and trap radioactive cations (positively charged ions), possibly forever," he said.

"The ceramic material can last a very long time, much longer than the radioactivity of a radioactive ion."

"The fibres are in very thin layers, less than one nanometre in width, and the radioactive ions are attracted into the space between the layers," he said.

"Once the ceramic material absorbs a certain amount, the layers collapse to lock the radioactive ions inside."

The nanofibres, which are up to 40 micrometres in length, look like white powder to the human eye, Prof Zhu said.

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