Mixing Radiation, Minerals, Toxic Waste Could Be Cleanup Boon -- Or Kaboom

In a finding that could just as likely lead to a new, cheap method of chemical waste cleanup as it could predict disaster at the nation's worst nuclear waste site, researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame have shown that common soil minerals can work with ionizing radiation to break down toxic wastes into simpler compounds. The finding, however, also serves as a warning that breakdown products in enclosed storage tanks may build up pressure and explode.

In laboratory experiments, the researchers showed that alumina, an oxide of aluminum that is found in many soils, can greatly accelerate chemical reactions in which gamma rays break down toxic chlorinated chemicals. Silica and other oxides -- clay -- in soil may behave similarly. Gamma rays are high energy X-rays given off by many of the highly radioactive wastes produced in weapons manufacture, such as cobalt-60.

The good news is that gamma irradiation thus may be an effective means of degrading some highly toxic pollutants, such as dioxin or PCBs, in contaminated soil. The bad news is that 177 huge underground tanks on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington, which hold 54 million gallons of high-level radioactive and chemical waste, may face an increasing risk of rupture or explosion as volatile gases, including hydrogen and perhaps methane, are generated as the chemicals are broken down by minerals in the tanks.

"They're big cauldrons of radioactive soup," says Kimberly A. Gray, associate professor of civil engineering at Northwestern's Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Gray conducted the new study with physical chemist Prashant V. Kamat of Notre Dame's Radiation Laboratory and Northwestern graduate student George A. Zacheis. The results are reported in the April 8 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

The Hanford tanks, Gray said, contain radioactive metals and nonradioactive metal oxides and organic chemicals tha

Contact: Bill Burton
Northwestern University

Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. NIEHS/NTP Director Dr. Kenneth Olden receives Society of Toxicologys Public Communications Award
2. Toxic protein could explain Alzheimers and lead to breakthroughs
3. Toxicogenomics provides insight on assigning breast cancer drugs
4. Toxic compound opens potentially important cell gates
5. Toxicologists discover traces of diesel exhaust in the body
6. National Toxicology Program (NTP) public meeting on the report on carcinogens
7. Pollutants Found In House Dust Increase Pesticides Toxicity
8. Toxicologists To Meet March 14-18 In New Orleans
9. Duke Study Finds More Genes May Be Affected By Toxic Cadmium
10. Flexibility In Cutting Toxic Releases Yields Dividends
11. Wistar Scientist To Speak At Toxicology Forum On Effects Of Conjugated Linoleic Acid On Preventing And Reversing Atherosclerosis

Post Your Comments:

(Date:8/25/2019)... ... August 23, 2019 , ... BioInformatics, part of Science ... Experts-on-Demand. The service helps connect companies with a network of thousands of life ... technology, and medicine is moving faster than ever, and we have built a ...
(Date:8/21/2019)... ... August 21, 2019 , ... AbSci, a revolutionary ... and low-cost biomanufacturing of complex protein therapeutics, today announced the appointment of Fred ... Advisory Board, Dr. Larimore brings more than 30 years of experience in biopharmaceutical ...
(Date:8/21/2019)... Va. (PRWEB) , ... August 20, 2019 , ... ... customer experience for the second time since BioInformatics first fielded the survey in ... 2019: Life Science Customer Experience , from BioInformatics, part of Science and Medicine ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/19/2019)... ... July 18, 2019 , ... ... investment to enlarge their current piezo motion facilities in Lederhose, Germany, increasing their ... for multilayer piezo ceramic assembly production in addition to general office space, a ...
(Date:7/17/2019)... ... July 16, 2019 , ... ... agreement for the development and manufacturing of Zolgensma® (onasemnogene abeparvovec-xioi), an AveXis ... AveXis, a Novartis company, will have dedicated manufacturing space at the new, ...
(Date:7/9/2019)... ... July 08, 2019 , ... Today, at the BIO World ... Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the winners of the Consider Corn Challenge II. ... process using field corn to produce biobased materials. , “Corn is a sustainable, ...
(Date:6/26/2019)... ... 26, 2019 , ... Alice Branton today released research results from preclinical trials ... Gluconate, which can prove to be beneficial for treating Hypomagnesemia. , The preclinical trial ... in crystallite size , Over 142% increase in particle size , ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: