Indian scientists have developed a new polymer that reduces radioactive waste in nuclear reactors, making the decontamination process a less expensive one. The compound has been synthesised in such a way that they have pre-designed holes to selectively recognise and trap cobaltions.
Referred to as Cobalt Imprinted Polymer, the compound selects the radioactive cobalt ions in the nuclear coolants to dissolve and remove them without altering their properties.
The polymer is imprinted with a memory for cobalt ions, source of radioactivity in most nuclear plant coolant channels. By doing this, the radioactive ions will be trapped in very small volume of this special polymer.
So, the amount of radioactive waste volume which is subjected to immobilisation will be very small, Narasimhan V. Sevilimedu, a scientist with the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, told PTI in an e-mail.
The compound has been synthesised in such a way that they have pre-designed holes to selectively recognise and trap cobaltions. Such pre-designed selectivity is the key aspect of such imprinted polymers, he said.
Conventionally, a solution of mild chemicals is used to remove the corrosion products i.e. metal oxides by circulating chemicals in the coolant circuits. The solution comprises both radioactive and non-radioactive ions, namely cobalt and iron respectively.