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Science Technology

Intelligent Absorbent Removes Radioactive Material 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-with-the-bad-out-with-the-good dept.
Zothecula writes "Nuclear power plants are located close to sources of water, which is used as a coolant to handle the waste heat discharged by the plants. This means that water contaminated with radioactive material is often one of the problems to arise after a nuclear disaster. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water, resulting in clean water and concentrated waste that can be stored more efficiently."
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Intelligent Absorbent Removes Radioactive Material

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  • by vlm (69642)

    Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water

    So, they've reinvented zeolite filters which have been used since the 40s to do the exact same task exactly the same way?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeolite#Nuclear_industry [wikipedia.org]

    • Re:Old news? (Score:5, Informative)

      by boristdog (133725) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @04:15PM (#37924934)

      RTFA, How does it work?

      "the world-first intelligent absorbent, which uses titanate nanofibre and nanotube technology, differed from current clean-up methods, such as layered clays and zeolites, because it could efficiently lock in deadly radioactive material from contaminated water."

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        RTFA, How does it work?

        "the world-first intelligent absorbent, which uses titanate nanofibre and nanotube technology, differed from current clean-up methods, such as layered clays and zeolites, because it could efficiently lock in deadly radioactive material from contaminated water."

        Great, now define "efficiently", because by many measurements, Zeolites are quite efficient at this purpose. They are also incredibly inexpensive; you can get food-grade Zeolites at any ag supply store for practically nothing, though you can also buy a tiny bottle at the health food store for the same amount. Zeolites are a bit gritty though, at least the cheap ones. They were used with great success to treat isotope poisoning after chernobyl, baking them into breads. I made some corn bread with Sweet PDZ,

    • You must have missed the part where they said this is the first "intelligent" absorbent. Apparently they have developed a radiation filter with the capacity for learning, reasoning, and understanding. Pretty impressive! :D

    • Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water

      So, they've reinvented zeolite filters which have been used since the 40s to do the exact same task exactly the same way?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeolite#Nuclear_industry [wikipedia.org]

      "One gram of the nanofibres can effectively purify at least one tonne of polluted water," Professor Zhu said.

      That's extremely efficient.

  • Unfortunately (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlippyToad (240532) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @04:08PM (#37924862)

    It's a case of too little, too late. I have zero trust in the nuclear industry because no matter how urgent, present, demanding, and obvious the need to make double-extra super-safe reactors presents itself to the manufacturers of these facilities, they seem hell-bent on cutting corners and cheaping out on the front-end, to disastrous consequences (insert whatever link to "Japanese Reactor Meltdown / Chernobyl / Three Mile Island" you want here) which in retrospect were the result of shoddy workmanship, sloppy maintenance, wilfully stupid cost-cutting and just general all-around stupid douchebaggery of the kind you get when you give too much power and responsibility unto the hands of those fatally unprepared for the responsibility part.

    While zombie-like steps continue to be made towards legitimizing this super-expensive but also unbelievably fraught with peril method of boiling fucking water the public's opinion on nuclear power seems to have solidified somewhere around the spectrum of "Holy Fucking Shit Those Things Are Massively Unsafe" and thank God and the FSM for it. There seems to be no amount of regulation or incentive that can persuade private or public nuclear power plant operators to actually operate safely, and none of that would even matter one damn bit if Mother Nature brought on sufficient catastrophe.

    Can we please be done with nuclear energy? Yesterday? Solar, geothermal and wind are all coming rapidly into their own, already cost less than traditional non-renewables (especially if we take away Big Oil/Gas/Nuclear's free rides and subisdies) and it looks like about 30 years down the road give or take we could be living with a distributed power grid that takes inputs from every single solar roof/windmill/vent in the country.

    Proof positive that this cultural shift in the trust of big, unaccountable institutions to manage such dangerous materials is the ever-burned-into-our-brains image of Homer Dumbass Simpson, nuclear power plant worker who routinely blows up his plant with his fumbling incompetence. THAT is what most of America and the world think of when we think "nuclear power plant."

    • There are more. In fact Washington State back in the 1970s had a consortium of Public Utility Districts sell some $200 million in municipal bonds to build several nuclear power plants around the Pacific Northwest. The consortium, called Washington Public Power System (nicknamed "whoops") was plagued by corruption in the design and building of their nuclear plants. Finally they gave up... leaving several partially-built but never operated nuclear plants sprinkled here and there across the landscape. Then the

    • Re:Unfortunately (Score:5, Informative)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @04:51PM (#37925382)

      You may want to check out, well, the facts. [nextbigfuture.com]. Nuclear is safer, by far, than any other power source. Yes, nuclear power, for all it's "shoddy" construction (never mind the concrete chimneys are designed to survive jumbo jets flying into them), the fact that power plants have been run for decades longer than intended instead of being replaced by newer, safer, and more efficient models (in part due to regulative costs. I won't get into the irony of that, since most of them have apparently been fixed recently), and counting in the horror that was Chernobyl (which still only managed to kill ~4000 people total), is safer than solar power.

      Also, the best sources I can find agree that renewables aren't cheaper than other sources (and won't be for another good 5-15 years. Hence why there are government subsidies for them, at least in the US.) If that were true, we would be seeing a lot more of them. Companies don't buy gas and oil because they like ruining the environment, they do it because it is the cheapest option. Once you make solar, et al. cheaper than the alternatives, then people will start using them.

      If the choice was really between solar and nuclear, I would agree with you. The problem is, that isn't the choice. The choice is between coal/ oil and nuclear. Solar (or geothermal and definitely not wind) isn't even a viable option yet. And presented with the dichotomy between nuclear and coal, I will vote for nuclear every single time. So would anyone else who understands how bad coal is (it's worse in normal operation than a nuclear plant is when it breaks down.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Nuclear is safer, by far, than any other power source

        Yet tens of thousands of people from Fukushima are unable to return to their homes. The problem with nuclear power is that when it goes wrong it tends to go very wrong. The economic and human cost of nuclear power failures can be huge. 80,000 people have been displaced as a result of the Fukushima meltdowns: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3343819.htm [abc.net.au]

        • Nuclear is safer, by far, than any other power source

          Yet tens of thousands of people from Fukushima are unable to return to their homes. The problem with nuclear power is that when it goes wrong it tends to go very wrong. The economic and human cost of nuclear power failures can be huge. 80,000 people have been displaced as a result of the Fukushima meltdowns: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2011/s3343819.htm [abc.net.au]

          Not really. The difference is that in the case of nuclear disaster the effects happen in a very small timeframe, whereas with e.g. coal plants the effects accumulate over time. That's why it SEEMS like nuclear is the worse choice of the two. People just forget to take into account that e.g. coal plants constantly pollute environment and create all kinds of secondary negative effects all the way from the pollution and environmental destruction caused by coal mining, and all this happens even when the plants

          • Not really. The difference is that in the case of nuclear disaster the effects happen in a very small timeframe, whereas with e.g. coal plants the effects accumulate over time. That's why it SEEMS like nuclear is the worse choice of the two.

            I wasn't comparing it to coal. The original claim that "nuclear is safer, by far, than any other power source" is difficult to reconcile in comparison to hydro or solar power. As for the timeframe, parts of Fukushima will be affected for decades. I don't consider a quarter or a third of a lifetime a small timeframe.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Deaths per terawatt hour" is unlikely to be accepted by the general public as a valid measure of the overall safety or desirability of nuclear power.

        Wikipedia quotes Stephanie Cooke:

        You have people in Japan right now that are facing either not returning to their homes forever, or if they do return to their homes, living in a contaminated area for basically ever. And knowing that whatever food they eat, it might be contaminated and always living with this sort of shadow of fear over them that they will die

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The problem with your idea is that there's a lot of other power plants around the world that are just as shitty as Fukushima Daiichi and which could have the same problem. Further, it is impossible to calculate the deaths from Chernobyl or Fukushima. BTW, "the horror that was Chernobyl" ... You do realize that they originally claimed that F.D. was only 1/10 of Chernobyl, and now they are claiming that it is 1/2 of Chernobyl, right? At this rate it will be announced that it is worse than Chernobyl soon enoug

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Safer than solar? How stupid do you want to pretend to be and how stupid do you think we are? Either stop the elaborate and stupid lies or learn a bit about your subject matter instead of treating us all like easy marks in some confidence trick.
        • by Baloroth (2370816)
          The figures count construction fatalities. Since most solar panels are roof-mounted (noticed the part were it says "rooftop" next to solar? Yeah, reading a source before commenting on it does help), lots of accidents and therefore lots of deaths. Probably other sources of fatalities too. Another source had non-rooftop solar (which is much lower but still higher than nuclear, ~0.10/TWh IIRC), but I couldn't find it. So... I didn't think you were stupid, no. Might have to revise that estimate now, though.
          • by dbIII (701233)
            Meanwhile the nuclear figures don't contain construction or mining fatalities because it's fairly irrelevant when considering nuclear power, so the solar figures shouldn't either. As I wrote above, it's an elaborate and stupid lie that you've been fooled into telling.
            To be more precise, the people near the Ranger Uranium mine in Australia that got sick from contamination of drinking water don't get added to any list of nuclear accidents (and wouldn't even if they died) so why add an estimate of people fall
            • by Baloroth (2370816)

              Meanwhile the nuclear figures don't contain construction or mining fatalities because it's fairly irrelevant when considering nuclear power, so the solar figures shouldn't either.

              Seriously, dude, read the article. He factors in deaths from steel mining for construction, uranium ore mining, concrete workers, etc. Hell, one of the sources he cites factors in radon poisons from uranium ore mine waste. It even mentions greenhouse effects (although obviously that is difficult to determine exactly).

              Diagram 6 in this [cyf.gov.pl] (pdf warning) study shows deaths from major accidents alone (so ignoring constant health dangers of coal etc.) This ignores Fukishima (having not happened when the paper was

      • You may want to check out, well, the facts.

        Your "facts" are utter bullshit, and you're an idiot for putting them forth. This well-known page, that comes back each time an idiot feels like defending NP, says that the WHO announced 4000 deaths from Chernobyl in 2005 but fails to indicate that the same WHO admitted later that the report was "a political communication tool" [opendemocracy.net] and issued a new statement [who.int] in 2006 pointing at very different figures.

        Also comparing rooftop fall deaths to nuclear is ridiculous because you're comparing very shoddy construction

      • Nuclear is safer, by far, than any other power source

        So explain to me why 1,000+ square miles surrounding Chernobyl are unaccessable without a permit? Explain to me how that's working out for the thousands of people who live near Fukushima. Here are some of the consequences of the "far Far FAR FAR FAR" safer nuclear power:

        Tokyo officials temporarily recommended that tap water should not be used to prepare food for infants.[29][30] Plutonium contamination has been detected in the soil at two sites in the p

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          Reread your quote.

          Plutonium contamination has been detected in the soil at two sites in the plant

          ok, yeah, there was Plutonium found

          although further analysis revealed that the detected densities are within limits from fallout generated from previous atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.

          OK, so the Pu could have been fallout from when Japan was bombed? or from atmospheric testing?

          Two workers hospitalized with non-life threatening radiation burns on 25 March had been exposed to between 2000 and 6000 mSv of radiation at their ankles when standing in water in Unit 3.

          OK, so they were exposed to radiation (not a large amount BTW, and in their ankles, not their lungs)

          Follow-up examination at 11. april from National Institute of Radiological Sciences was without confirmation.

          IOW, they were unable to find evidence of radiation exposure

          Most of the things being done in the area around the plant are of a precautionary nature, as no one knows exactly how much was released, or if it is even an issue. Sure, it was a terrible disaster, but M

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      [Nuclear power is an] unbelievably fraught with peril method of boiling fucking water

      Given how much you said about nuclear power, I'm surprised that you didn't know that the boiling water *isn't* the final product! In fact, it's simply a means to an end- a minor *intermediate* step used to convert the heat created by the nuclear reactions into the final product- electricity!

      And yeah, in all seriousness, you damn well know this of course, Which makes your example blatantly disingenuous rather than downright stupid- an attempt to minimise the usefulness and seriousness of nuclear power by p

      • Don't most current methods of generating electricity pretty much break down into somehow generating heat to boil water to force steam to turn a turbine etc etc? Except for maybe hydroelectric, where you have gravity acting on water turning turbines AFAIK.
        • Thinking about it more, wind power simply turns the "turbine" with the force of the wind directly, and gas-powered engines use controlled explosions to get the mechanical force wanted,

          But at least I'm pretty sure coal, nuclear, and solar all use heat to get water to go through an evaporate -> spin the turbine -> cool -> start over cycle...

        • by Jonathan_S (25407)

          Don't most current methods of generating electricity pretty much break down into somehow generating heat to boil water to force steam to turn a turbine etc etc? Except for maybe hydroelectric, where you have gravity acting on water turning turbines AFAIK.

          That depends on how you define "most current methods". In terms of watt/hours produced you're probably right; but in terms of number of methods not necessarily.

          Nuclear, Coal, and (most?) Oil, are used to boil water to run steam turbines.
          Natural gas peak lo

      • by Sabriel (134364)

        Er... "SlippyToad" was in no way attempting to minimise the usefulness and seriousness of nuclear power.

        I quote, "shoddy workmanship, sloppy maintenance, wilfully stupid cost-cutting and just general all-around stupid douchebaggery of the kind you get when you give too much power and responsibility unto the hands of those fatally unprepared for the responsibility part".

        In that context, the phrase "boiling fucking water" refers to something that should be straightforward - until you add humans.

        Nuclear power

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          In that context, the phrase "boiling fucking water" refers to something that should be straightforward.

          No offence, but you missed the point. It's not the boiling water that is the hard part- that clearly *is*, as you suggest, relatively "straightforward" and a way of converting heat to electricity. It's generating the initial energy to boil the water in the first place that's the hard (and relevant!) part.

          By focusing on the intermediate "boiling water" step, at the expense of the more significant generation of energy itself, and of the final more useful product, SlippyToad trivialises the difficulty of th

          • by Sabriel (134364)

            I'm sorry. I felt your post was a technological argument about how useful and serious nuclear power is, while his post was a sociological argument about how profiteering and corner-cutting are too endemic/entrenched for us to trust the industry on a commercial scale.

            I.e. from my POV, Dogtanian and SlippyToad are arguing apples and oranges. Does that make sense?

            And I agree with you AND him. Nuclear power is a fantastic technology and I don't trust our society to deploy it safely.

            • by Dogtanian (588974)

              I'm sorry. I felt your post was a technological argument about how useful and serious nuclear power is

              No, not really... it wasn't that at all. It wasn't meant to pass judgement on nuclear power either way, per se.

              What it *was* was an attack on the disingenuous use of language by him to make a point.

              That said, I like the idea of nuclear electricity, but I *partly* agree with the misgivings expressed above (even those by SlippyToad!) in practice. Whether these misgivings outweight the benefits is open to question.

      • You kids have to learn about context. A reactor boils water, a turbine turns that into motion, and a generator produces electricity from that motion. There is nothing at all wrong with the statement you are pretending to correct and building an enormous house of cards of false superiority on. It appears to all be about winning a spelling bee instead of understanding - the depressing tendancy of seeing science as an incantation where you have to get the spelling correct but don't require the merest clue o
        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          A reactor boils water, a turbine turns that into motion, and a generator produces electricity from that motion.

          Indeed. Both myself and SlippyToad know this damn well, so what's your point?

          There is nothing at all wrong with the statement you are pretending to correct

          Yes there is, but it it lies in the implications of the way it was (deliberately) phrased and not in the surface meaning. *That* was correct, but misses the point.

          It appears to all be about winning a spelling bee instead of understanding - the depressing tendancy of seeing science as an incantation where you have to get the spelling correct but don't require the merest clue of what is going on.

          No. Despite your sanctimonious and condescending rant, you *entirely* missed the whole damn point of what I said.

          Stating that nuclear power was an "unbelievably fraught with peril method of boiling fucking water" (while pedantically correct) rather than "...of generatin

          • by dbIII (701233)
            Of course I "get it" otherwise I could not point out your pointless attack over semantics could I? In this case "pedantically correct" is technically correct so you've got a whole lot of bullshit there attacking the truth. Is this inspired by the example of corrupt politics or something?
            Also of course it's condescending, how else can such a pathetic example such as your above post be addressed? It's a shining example of what happens when you cut educational spending for years and get kids that think a sp
            • by Dogtanian (588974)

              Of course I "get it" otherwise I could not point out your pointless attack over semantics could I? In this case "pedantically correct" is technically correct so you've got a whole lot of bullshit there attacking the truth.

              I've already clearly explained the point I was attacking twice, and it wasn't the surface meaning that "reactors produce steam" (duh). I don't intend repeating it. I'd say "go back and read it", but in your case that would obviously be a waste of time.

              Even mildly autistic people (who often have trouble picking up on hidden meaning and implication in practice) can at least understand the existence of this concept in principle when it's explained to them. The fact that *you* can't suggests that you're more

              • by dbIII (701233)
                Cut the bullshit. Somebody said something bad about a thing you like so you've childishly pretended they said something completely different to what was written just so that you can have something to argue about. Then after I called you to task you are accusing me of being mentally ill. Ask yourself, what does this reveal about yourself and is that the sort of person you really want to be seen as?
                None of this is relevant to nuclear power at all is it?
                You also didn't seem to get the point above was a not
                • by Dogtanian (588974)

                  you've childishly pretended they said something completely different to what was written just

                  On the contrary, I made quite clear that I agreed that boiling water was a part of the nuclear process, just not the end product.

                  You know this very well, so you're either incredibly stupid or intentionally repeating a lie on the basis that if you say it enough times it'll be true.

                  Then after I called you to task you are accusing me of being mentally ill.

                  Actually, I called you an "idiot". (*)

                  I said that even a mildly autistic ("mentally ill" in your words) person could understand in *principle* something that you apparently couldn't.

                  You didn't seem to get it when nearly everyone would

                  The part in my original post [slashdot.org] where I said, an

                  • You appear to be far too thick to realise that your earlier post was so incredibly stupid that it provoked my post along the lines of "look at how badly these kids are taught today".
                    There's an easy way to stop such ridicule. Think before you post something that is so incredibly stupid as to claim that something very obviously true is false.

                    The OP's comment was relevant insofar as it was a subtle and intellectually dishonest way of attacking nuclear electricity using the same techniques that politicians and

                    • You appear to be far too thick to realise that your earlier post was so incredibly stupid that it provoked my post along the lines of "look at how badly these kids are taught today".

                      Yep, that's certainly what you meant. *cough*

                      As well as incorrectly assuming I was a product of the US education system, you're still talking about how "those kids" are taught "today"... with no knowledge of when I attended school. For all you *actually* know, maybe I left school last year, or maybe it was fifty years ago.

                      You're right... you were "provoked" into your spelling-bee-obsessed rant of narrow-minded stupidity!

                      By using such inconvenient things as facts instead of transparent fiction like your post above?

                      Thanks for clarifying that when I said:-

                      You're either incredibly stupid or intentionally repeating a lie [that I disagreed that nuclear power generated steam, even though I acknowledge this in my original and all subsequent posts] on the basis that if you say it enough times it'll be true.

                      You were going for the "repeating a lie" bit

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Accidents happen with every kind of power production, nuclear is one of the safest. Yes, boiling water reactors are the most dangerous, and I agree that they should be shut down, however noone is building those anymore anyway.

      Can we please be done with nuclear energy? Yesterday? Solar, geothermal and wind are all coming rapidly into their own, already cost less than traditional non-renewables (especially if we take away Big Oil/Gas/Nuclear's free rides and subisdies) and it looks like about 30 years down the road give or take we could be living with a distributed power grid that takes inputs from every single solar roof/windmill/vent in the country.

      You must live in an alternative universe I can't even comment on this bullshit.

      • nuclear is one of the safest.

        You must live in an alternative universe

        Holly shit who is living in an alternative universe? How can an industrial process be "one of the safest" when it has the potential to destroy a country and almost did [guardian.co.uk]? How blind are you willing to be?

    • by dbIII (701233)

      It's a case of too little, too late. I have zero trust in the nuclear industry

      However this isn't the "nuclear industry" doing it. Please read the article.

  • Once it's absorbed radioactive material it becomes a problem all by itself. But at least it doesn't flow downhill.... much.

  • I wonder how much it would cost to construct solar panels in orbit which then transmit their power to Earth's surface through a focused microwave beam, vs the cost of building (and decommissioning) a nuclear reactor. http://space.mike-combs.com/spacsetl.htm#SPS [mike-combs.com]
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Certainly more than building those panels, you know, on Earth. Also, solar panels have terrible efficiency compared to solar plants.

  • http://www.koksu.kz/koksu/gb_en/ecology.html [koksu.kz]
    Gamma rays shielding. A layer of shaly shungite provides a more effective level of shielding than equally thick layers of concrete or aluminium. Shungite shields can be used in the areas of potential ecological disasters, such as oil pipelines, gas-condensate reservoirs, handling grounds for combustible materials, sump and sewage tanks, etc. A promising area of shungite application is seen to be the construction of chemical and radioactive waste storages.

    http [drizzle.com]
  • Wow, I know a lot of AI researchers who are going to be pretty pissed off that these materials scientists scooped them.

    Has it passed the Turing test yet?

  • Wow, I like how this material is so intelligent that it can differentiate and select radioactive ions from non-radioactive ones. Nice work.
  • YA!!! Coal is safer and cleaner than anything.

    Bluff collapse at power plant sends dirt, coal ash into lake [jsonline.com]
    Containing the damage at We Energies site [jsonline.com]
    Collapsed bluff got pass from state regulators [jsonline.com]
    Bluff collapse came weeks after Congress rebuffed EPA on coal ash rule [jsonline.com]

    I used to consider myself a Republican. Now I'm embarrassed to admit that. I however am not a Democrat either. I belong to the party of "The Screwed."

    The current political party that would like to call itself "Republican" is a party of and f

  • Are then any published testing results, experimental data? Sounds great, but we do hear about all kinds of wonderful stuff that "can do XYZ" really soon now.

  • "Corporate America's" pattern of behavior suggests to me that a suit in an executive suite somewhere will order a bunch of this material to be put in the water discharges of all the nuke facilities he can affect to contain "minor problems", and then lay all maintenance crews off except one - which will be tasked with doing what they can to prevent a major catastrophe at all of the facilities on a rotating basis.

    Thereby generating "shareholder value" by reducing labor costs and increasing the possibility of

How many hardware guys does it take to change a light bulb? "Well the diagnostics say it's fine buddy, so it's a software problem."

Working...