Researchers at Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory believe that freshwater algae could become a key component in nuclear waste clean-up.
Studies done on Closterium moniliferum, a bright green pond algae, found that it could be effective at sequestering Strontium 90, one of the most dangerous radioactive materials created in a nuclear reactor and consequently present nuclear waste sludge. The material has a half-life of 30 years and is drawn to bone, carrying with it a very high bone cancer risk for those exposed to it.
Lab studies showed that algae removes strontium from water and stores it in the form of barium-strontium-sulfate crystals while excreting out any calcium, meaning it could naturally separate the highly radioactive material from the harmless substances in sludge, allowing clean-up workers to more easily locate and deal with the radioactive material.
The experiments used non-radioactive strontium (chemically identical to isotope Sr-90), so the researchers aren't sure how the algae would survive in a radioactive environment, but algae has proven that it can withstand other harsh environments, so the scientists are very hopeful.via Physorg
written by Fracktoid, April 05, 2011
written by Conservation Jobs, April 06, 2011
written by George E. Smolka, July 07, 2011
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