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Science Daily: Brookhaven Scientists Develop Method To Remove Uranium From Contaminated Steel Surfaces
Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, Center for Environmental and Molecular Sciences, and Stony Brook University (SBU) have developed a simple, safe method of removing uranium from contaminated metallic surfaces using citric acid formulations so that the materials can be recycled or disposed of as low-level radioactive or nonradioactive waste.
Decontamination of radionuclides from metallic and other surfaces contaminated by radiological incidents is a major environmental challenge. Brookhaven scientist A.J. Francis, assisted at the Lab by Cleveland Dodge and by Gary Halada at SBU, led the effort in developing an innovative and improved process for decontaminating metal surfaces and other materials. The research team developed an environmentally friendly green-chemistry process that uses all naturally occurring materials -- citric acid, common soil bacteria, and sunlight. Present methods of removing uranium from contaminated metal surfaces include sand blasting, chemical extraction, and electro-chemical dissolution. These methods generate secondary waste streams, creating additional disposal problems.
"In the event of a radiological incident, such as a 'dirty bomb,' this technology can be used to clean up contaminated materials," Francis said. "It will also treat the secondary waste generated from the treatment process, resulting in waste minimization. It is a comprehensive process."