Safe nuclear waste storage, new methods of producing and storing hydrogen, and applied sciences for trapping and reusing greenhouse gases are all possible spinoffs of a new examine by University of Guelph researchers.
Published recently in Scientific Reports, the research concerned the first-ever use of antimatter to research processes linked to potential long-term storage of waste from nuclear reactors, says lead writer and chemistry professor Khashayar Gandhi.
The analysis could finally assist in designing safer underground vaults for permanent storage of radioactive waste, together with waste from Ontario’s nuclear power plants. These installations produce nearly two-thirds of the province’s energy needs.
At present, used nuclear fuel bundles—nonetheless extremely radioactive—are held in vaults in non-permanent storage.
Long-term, experts aim to make use of deep geological repositories to entomb the material completely and buried in rock formations hundreds of meters underground, the fuel containers can be held in engineered and natural barriers such as clays that shield people and the environment from radiation.
The group studied radiation chemistry and electronic structure of materials at scales smaller than nanometres, or millionths of millimeters.
They prepared samples of clay in ultra-thin layers in his U of G lab. Working on the TRIUMF particle accelerator in Vancouver, the group bombarded the samples with antimatter subatomic particles known as positive muons.
Based mostly on these first-ever measurements on the accelerator, he stated, the group’s system is a proven tool that may allow radiation research of material for use to store nuclear waste. That is essential for Canada, where the nuclear industry is trying to build its first geological repository by mid-century.