September 26, 2020

New stable plutonium form discovered

New stable plutonium form discovered

An international team of scientists has discovered a solid and stable form of plutonium with a pentavalent oxidation state. It can serve as a transitional phase for the storage of radioactive waste.

Countries around the world are working hard toimproving the safety of storage of nuclear waste to prevent the release of radioactive nuclides into the environment. A team of physicists led by scientists from the Center. Helmholtz Dresden-Rossendorf accidentally found another solution to the problem.

Initially, researchers tried to synthesize plutonium (VI) dioxide nanoparticles withusing its various precursors to then study their interaction with water, clay, iron oxides and natural organic substances. However, during the experiments with Pu (III), (IV) and (V), each time they observed a strange course of the reaction halfway through the experiment.

After further research withusing high resolution X-ray absorption spectroscopy, they were convinced that they were dealing with a previously unknown element shape. The results were also confirmed by physicists from Sweden.

Discovery of a stable solid form of plutoniumIt will help not only reduce the negative impact of nuclear waste on the environment, but also change the theoretical forecasts of the behavior of elements in the environment over millions of years.

At the beginning of the year, scientists also developed a new method for the automated production of plutonium-238, which can increase its production by eight times.