This illustration of a metal-organic framework (MOF) shows the metal center bound to organic molecules. Each MOF has a specific framework determined by the choice of metal and organic. Sandia chemists identified a MOF whose pore size and high surface area can separate and trap radioactive iodine molecules from a stream of spent nuclear fuel. (Credit: Sandia National Laboratories)

Research by a team of Sandia chemists could impact worldwide efforts to produce clean, safe nuclear energy and reduce radioactive waste. The Sandia researchers have used metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to capture and remove volatile radioactive gas from spent nuclear fuel. “This is one of the first attempts to use a MOF for iodine capture,” said chemist Tina Nenoff of Sandia’s Surface and Interface Sciences Department.

The discovery could be applied to nuclear fuel reprocessing or to clean up nuclear reactor accidents. A characteristic of nuclear energy is that used fuel can be reprocessed to recover fissile materials and provide fresh fuel for nuclear power plants. Countries such as France, Russia, and India are reprocessing spent fuel.

The process also reduces the volume of high-level wastes, a key concern of the Sandia researchers. “The goal is to find a methodology for highly selective separations that result in less waste being interred,” Nenoff said.

Read the rest of the article at ScienceDaily.

Read the “Trapping Guests within a Nanoporous Metal-Organic Framework through Pressure-Induced Amorphization,” abstract or the “Capture of Volatile Iodine, a Gaseous Fission Product, by Zeolitic Imidazolate Framework-8,” abstract at Journal of the American Chemical Society.