Tag Archives: uranium

Common Bricks Can Be Used to Detect Past Presence of Uranium, Plutonium

Researchers from North Carolina State University have demonstrated a technique that can determine whether bricks – the common building material – have ever been near a radiological source, and identify the specific type of source, such as high enriched uranium or plutonium. The technique is possible when there are no chemical residues left behind, and has security and nuclear nonproliferation applications. (more…)

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Boosting armor for nuclear-waste eating microbes

A microbe developed to clean up nuclear waste and patented by a Michigan State University researcher has just been improved.

In earlier research, Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist, identified that Geobacter bacteria’s tiny conductive hair-like appendages, or pili, did the yeoman’s share of remediation. By increasing the strength of the pili nanowires, she improved their ability to clean up uranium and other toxic wastes. (more…)

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Search for Life Suggests Solar Systems More Habitable than Ours

SAN FRANCISCO — Scattered around the Milky Way are stars that resemble our own sun—but a new study is finding that any planets orbiting those stars may very well be hotter and more dynamic than Earth.

That’s because the interiors of any terrestrial planets in these systems are likely warmer than Earth—up to 25 percent warmer, which would make them more geologically active and more likely to retain enough liquid water to support life, at least in its microbial form.

The preliminary finding comes from geologists and astronomers at Ohio State University who have teamed up to search for alien life in a new way. (more…)

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Grand Canyon as Old as the Dinosaurs, Suggests New Study Led by CU-Boulder

An analysis of mineral grains from the bottom of the western Grand Canyon indicates it was largely carved out by about 70 million years ago — a time when dinosaurs were around and may have even peeked over the rim, says a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The new research pushes back the conventionally accepted date for the formation of the Grand Canyon in Arizona by more than 60 million years, said CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Rebecca Flowers. The team used a dating method that exploits the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium atoms to helium atoms in a phosphate mineral known as apatite, said Flowers, a faculty member in CU-Boulder’s geological sciences department. (more…)

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Rust Never Sleeps

Berkeley Lab-led Observations of Electron Hopping in Iron Oxide Hold Consequences for Environment and Energy

Rust – iron oxide – is a poor conductor of electricity, which is why an electronic device with a rusted battery usually won’t work. Despite this poor conductivity, an electron transferred to a particle of rust will use thermal energy to continually move or “hop” from one atom of iron to the next. Electron mobility in iron oxide can hold huge significance for a broad range of environment- and energy-related reactions, including reactions pertaining to uranium in groundwater and reactions pertaining to low-cost solar energy devices. Predicting the impact of electron-hopping on iron oxide reactions has been problematic in the past, but now, for the first time, a multi-institutional team of researchers, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have directly observed what happens to electrons after they have been transferred to an iron oxide particle. (more…)

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Responding to the Radiation Threat

*Berkeley Lab Researchers Developing Promising Treatment for Safely Decontaminating Humans Exposed to Radioactive Actinides*

The New York Times recently reported that in the darkest moments of the triple meltdown last year of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japanese officials considered the evacuation of the nearly 36 million residents of the Tokyo metropolitan area. The consideration of so drastic an action reflects the harsh fact that in the aftermath of a major radiation exposure event, such as a nuclear reactor accident or a “dirty bomb” terrorist attack, treatments for mass contamination are antiquated and very limited. The only chemical agent now available for decontamination – a compound known as DTPA – is a Cold War relic that must be administered intravenously and only partially removes some of the deadly actinides – the radioactive chemical elements spanning from actinium to lawrencium on the periodic table – that pose the greatest health threats. (more…)

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USGS Releases Resource Estimate for Afghanistan Rare Earth Prospect

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates at least 1 million metric tonnes of rare earth element resources within the Khanneshin carbonatite in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. This estimate comes from a 2009-2011 USGS study funded by the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO).

The Khanneshin carbonatite contains a major potential source of light rare earth elements (LREE), such as lanthanum, cerium, and neodymium. The LREE prospects in the Khanneshin carbonatite are comparable in grade to world-class deposits like Mountain Pass, CA, and Bayan Obo in China, both of which primarily contain LREE. (more…)

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Microbes Generate Electricity While Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Researchers at Michigan State University have unraveled the mystery of how microbes generate electricity while cleaning up nuclear waste and other toxic metals.

Details of the process, which can be improved and patented, are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The implications could eventually benefit sites forever changed by nuclear contamination, said Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist. (more…)

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