Grant supports US nuclear waste research

Article by Staff Writer

WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the US have received a multi-million dollar grant to study the chemical reactions that cause nuclear waste to change.

The institutions will work together to establish the IDREAM Center (Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials). It is hoped that work carried out there will increase understanding of the behaviour of nuclear waste, and how radiation affects it over time, to aid the cleanup of heavily contaminated sites like Hanford, which has been used to produce nuclear weapons for decades.

IDREAM will be led by Sue Clark, a Battelle fellow at PNNL and a WSU regents professor of chemistry. The deputy director will be Aurora Clark, a WSU associate professor of chemistry, who is an expert in simulating highly radioactive systems.

Aurora Clark explains that the waste stored at sites like Hanford will have to be stored for at least 40 years before it can be processed, and will change over time. In order to design effective methods for remediation and disposal, it is vital to understand how it will evolve in that time. She will work with other experts at PNNL and Georgia Technical University to simulate the reactions between materials in radioactive waste.

The results of the simulations will be used by experimental scientists like Sue Clark, who will also analyse actual nuclear waste samples to help design new collection, processing and storage methods.

'IDREAM puts WSU in a unique position in partnership PNNL that will advance cutting edge nuclear science, attract new grants and help train a new generation of radiochemists,' said Aurora Clark. 'This is a show-stopping opportunity that brings us to the forefront of a national effort to put the nuclear remediation chapter of US history to a close.'

Article by Staff Writer

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