Radioactive technetium waste tinned

Written by Liisa Niitsoo for Chemistry World

Tin nanocomposite mops up nuclear waste contaminant.

Scientists have developed a tin-containing material that captures and stores radioactive technetium.

Scanning electron microscopy images show the tin-aluminophosphate’s structural change after exposure (right) to pertechnetate. Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

Pertechnetate (99TcO4-) is a splitting product of uranium-235 and plutonium-239 and a radioactive nuclear waste contaminant. Technetium’s 213,000-year-long half-life and pertechnetate’s high solubility in water mean that the radioactive element can contaminate water supplies, enter the food chain and accumulate in animals’ and humans’ vital organs. Cold war activities and the Manhattan Project generated 99Tc in high quantities, and nuclear reactors as well as the Sellafield plant used to release this radioactive contaminant.

Tatiana Levitskaia, Sayandev Chatterjee and their team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, US, have now synthesised a tin-aluminium-phosphate nanocomposite that removes and captures technetium from nuclear waste. The material reduces pertechnetate to the less water soluble Tc(IV), and at the same time changes its structure to capture and retain the reduced technetium.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.

Inorganic tin aluminophosphate nanocomposite for reductive separation of pertechnetate

Tatiana G. Levitskaia, Sayandev Chatterjee, Natasha K. Pence, Jesus Romero, Tamas Varga, Mark H. Engelhard, Yingge Du, Libor Kovarik, Bruce W. Arey, Mark E. Bowden and Eric D. Walter

Environ. Sci.: Nano, 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EN00130K, Paper

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