A team of researchers working at Kazan Federal University and Rice University in Russia recently discovered a new way of extracting radioactivity from water. The team claims that this would help in purification of millions of gallons of contaminated and impure water that is stored post the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. The team reports that the Oxidatively Modified Carbon (OMC) materials is highly efficient and cheaper with respect to absorption of radioactive metal cation along with strontium and cesium. When tsunami and earthquake hit in March 2011, Fukushima plant melted down along with release of toxic elements in surroundings.
OMC can trap regular radioactive elements easily and is highly efficient in doing its job. The list includes heavy elements like radium, thorium, and uranium. The material makes pretty good use of carbon sources’ porous nature. There are mainly two sources of carbon out of which one is very cheap called as C-seal F and it is used by oil industry in form of additives in the drilling fluids. The second one is a naturally occurring, carbon filled mineral called shungite that is found in Russia.
A team of researchers working at the Lomonosov Moscow State University already came up with a process to get rid of radionuclides from water with the help of graphene oxide in form of a sorbent. But the new researcher suggests that that the new process is a more efficient and lesser expensive one. The treatment of carbon particles with oxidizing chemicals enhanced its surface areas and “decorated “those oxygen molecules that are required to absorb toxic metals. The particles sized somewhere between 10-80 microns wide. The lead researcher Tour says, “We know we can use graphene oxide to trap the light radioactive elements of relevance to the Fukushima cleanup, namely cesium and strontium. But in the second study, we learned we can move from graphene oxide, which remains more expensive and harder to make, to really cheap oxidized coke and related carbons to trap these elements.”
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