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This is how to 'fish out' toxic radioactive elements from nuclear waste

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Sunday, March 12, 2017 - 14:11

New Delhi: Researchers have found that using arsenic molecules, most toxic elements from radioactive nuclear waste may be 'fished out', paving way for making energy industry safer and more effective.

Researchers reported the first examples of thorium with multiple bonds to arsenic to exist under ambient conditions on multi-gram scales where before they had only been prepared on very small scales at temperatures approaching that of interstellar space.

"Nuclear power could potentially produce far less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, but the long-lived waste it produces is radioactive and needs to be handled appropriately," said Elizabeth Wildman, from University of Manchester in the UK.

"In order to find ways of separating, recycling and reducing the volume of nuclear waste, research has focused on developing our understanding of how elements like thorium and uranium interact with elements from around the periodic table to potentially help improve nuclear waste clean-up," said Wildman.

"We need to reduce the volume of nuclear waste in order to make it easier to handle and process it to remove benign elements or separate the high level from low level waste," said Professor Steve Liddle, from The University of Manchester.

The study looked at how the soft element arsenic interacts with thorium, because arsenic could in principle be used in organic molecules that bond to metal atoms and improve extraction processes.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Sunday, March 12, 2017 - 14:11
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