Manchester experts reveal nuclear waste tech discovery

United Kingdom: Researchers at the University of Manchester may have found a way to improve nuclear waste recycling technologies – by applying pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) to measure the extent to which electrons are shared between the elements.

As the world at large increases the use of nuclear power, there is a need for improved extraction agents for nuclear waste separations and recycling technologies, so argues Steve Liddle, head of inorganic chemistry at the university. ‘To achieve this, a much better understanding of the electronic structure of actinide complexes is needed, since this impacts on how these elements interact with extractants,’ Liddle explains. Sadly, most actinide-element bonds are difficult to measure. Now, by using the near-infrared pulsed EPR spectroscopy process, researchers were able to calculate the electron density at elements bonded to these actinides, finally lifting the veil surrounding something referred to as covalency. An article detailing this ‘exciting breakthrough’ has already been published in the journal Nature Communications.

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