Wake Forest Touts Molecular Trap To Scrub Fuel Rods

The University of Wake Forest news department has announced a new method for scrubbing radioactive iodide from used nuclear fuel rods that has higher efficiency measures than current industrial practices.

Timo ThonhasuerThe new method, which involves a molecular-level filter is “a metal-organic framework (MOF) called MIL-101-Cr,” has been highlighted in a science journal called Nature Communications. It was developed by Jing Li at Rutgers University with help from the University of Wake Forest with results measured by scientists at the University of Texas Dallas in the Yves Chabal laboratory.

The unique MOF removes nearly all radioactive iodide from used nuclear fuel rods,” the announcement said, noting that “regulations in the United States require reprocessing plants to scrub 99.967 percent of radioactive iodides from the rods. The MIL-101-Cr. MOF removes 99.979-99.984 percent.”

By attaching so-called “grabbers” to the MOF, the team created a filter that was up to four times more efficient than the current industry standards, the university said.

It is also cheaper than industrial adsorbent now in use, as it does not require use of any precious metals, such as silver.

A MOF is a metal compound or cluster of metal ions that that form structures that can be porous at the molecular level. Organic ligands can be added as “grabbers” that bind to certain metallic atoms.

The project is partly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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