Chinese researchers are exploring advanced porous nanomaterials and technologies that can reduce radionuclide discharge into the environment
NANJING, China, Oct. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Japan’s recent announcement of its plan to release more than 1.2 million tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean has triggered global environmental concerns. The radioactive water in question was generated by the cooling process employed to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident. The water is still reported to carry hazardous radioactive materials or radionuclides, which pose significant threat to ecosystems and human health globally.
Researchers are now exploring advanced nanomaterials like porous organic polymers (POPs), metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent organic frameworks (COFs), and porous aromatic frameworks (PAFs) for radionuclide removal from the environment. These materials possess a high specific surface area, abundant pore structures, exceptional stability, and design flexibility, making them promising candidates for radionuclide removal.
Taking this forward, a research team led by Professor Xiangke Wang from North China Electric Power University, Beijing, P. R. China is at the forefront of these efforts to design nanomaterials and technologies that can remove radionuclides from the environment. In their recent review article published in the journal Eco-Environment & Health, they shed light on this emerging research, higher requirements for nanomaterial design, and the implementation of strategies and strengthened cooperation required to mitigate any harm caused to aquatic and land ecosystems. Speaking about the motivation behind their extensive review, Prof. Wang says, “We intend to create high-performance porous materials and technologies for the efficient removal of radionuclides from practical environments.”
Of the various technologies being explored, electrocatalysis has emerged as a next-generation solution that offers a continuous extraction of radionuclides through reduction or oxidation using electric fields. It is considered a promising approach for sewage treatment owing to its controllability, efficiency, and environmental friendliness. This technology has also been shown to effectively extract uranium from seawater, thereby highlighting its promise. Adsorption also stands out due to its low cost, simplicity, and practicality. Additionally, adsorption-photocatalysis systems have emerged as a viable approach for selective and efficient radionuclide removal. Photocatalytic technology activates catalysts through light field resources, offering an eco-friendly, low-cost, and efficient solution.
Looking ahead, Prof. Wang hopes that this research will attract the interest of a wide range of researchers and raise concerns about material design and technology improvement for radionuclide removal. “The ultimate goal is to apply these nanomaterials and technologies in real-world environmental conditions to promote sustainable development and safeguard our planet from the threats of radioactive contamination” Prof. Wang concludes.
Title of original paper: Advanced porous materials and emerging technologies for radionuclides removal from Fukushima radioactive water
Journal: Eco-Environment & Health
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SOURCE North China Electric Power University