Nuclear Waste: <ul><li>Is highly radioactive. </li></ul><ul><li>Can cause cancer, radiation sickness, and death. </li></ul><ul><li>Can contain many harmful radioisotopes, including Cesium-137. </li></ul><ul><li>Must be stored in secure containers in remote locations for thousands of years. </li></ul><ul><li>Can also contain vast quantities of harmless substances, such as water and sodium ions. </li></ul>
Cesium-137 <ul><li>Produced by the fission of Plutonium or Uranium, which are used in nuclear-electric power plants. </li></ul><ul><li>Highly radioactive </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental toxin </li></ul><ul><li>t 1/2 of 30 years, decays to Barium-137 by beta and gamma decay. </li></ul><ul><li>Exits reactors mixed with sodium-rich wastewater </li></ul>Cesium-137 Powder
Catching Cesium-137 in a “Venus Flytrap” Cesium-137 Organic Compound “ Venus Flytrap” Material
Sodium An effective filter Sodium Sodium The “Venus Flytrap” material – a filter made of layers of a compound containing sulfur, gallium and antimony – sequesters 100% of the radioactive cesium... While allowing the sodium and water molecules to pass right through This is a considerable achievement, because the concentration of sodium in the waste water is 1000 times that of cesium-137
“ There’s no science like accidental science” - Popsci The filtering material was accidentally discovered by researchers at Northwestern University while they were looking for materials to facilitate ion exchange The researchers who made the discovery are Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, a chemistry professor at Northwestern, and Nan Ding, then a doctoral student in Kanatzidis’s research group. Kanatzidis Nan Ding
Uses of the “Venus Flytrap” The researchers proposed that the material be used to filter the radioactive cesium out of the wastewater, so the harmless wastewater can be thrown away, and the cesium properly dealt with. This discovery could lead to a whole new class of radioactive waste filtering materials, that separate out specific radioisotopes from otherwise harmless waste. The radioactive cesium that is filtered out could be used in industrial equipment and measuring devices, as well as treatments for cancer.