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New compound may immobilize AIDS virus, certain radionuclides

etal atoms such as some radionuclides.

Once such compounds bind with an AIDs virus, the virus is no longer capable of entering a cell to damage it. HPAs may also bind with radionuclides called actinides, which removes them from the mixture by phase separation for easier and safer storage.

While previously known HPAs were made cheaply and easily at room temperatures and pressures, they were known to be stable only in acid environments.

This behavior means they cannot function well in blood as antiviral agents, because blood is neither acidic nor basic but instead is neutral.

Even worse, the liquid nuclear wastes at most waste sites - for example, Hanford, Savannah River, and Oak Ridge - are extremely basic. These environments attack acidic compounds and cause them to fall apart, says Nyman.

Nyman's discovery of the base-stable HPA came about when Sandia was called upon by the Savannah River Site to find the cause of a clogging problem at the site's attempts to extract a dangerously radioactive isotope of cesium. The extraction called for passing nuclear waste solution through a column of pebble-sized materials called zeolites that sequester cesium into tiny pores. She found that the zeolites contained small amounts of an impurity that forms during manufacturing. The acidic manufacturing treatment of the zeolites led to column-clogging behavior of the impurity. Identifying the problem concluded her task, but scientific curiosity led her to attempt to create the compound as an independent entity.

"I was curious to see if I could synthesis it pure, rather than leave it merely as a discovered impurity," says Nyman.

Her research on developing and utilizing HPAs, will be soon be supported by two Laboratory-Directed Research and Development grants, as well as the Environmental Management Science Project out of the DOE Office of Science in collaboration with Savannah River site.

"One man's trash is another's tre
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Contact: Neal Singer
nsinger@sandia.gov
505-845-7078
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories
14-Aug-2002


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