ChBE professor to lead DOE-funded nuclear energy research project

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Amy Schneider
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
(404) 385-2299
news@chbe.gatech.edu

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Sankar Nair, a faculty member in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and his research group received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund a nuclear energy research and development project.

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Sankar Nair, a faculty member in the Georgia Tech School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and his research group received a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund a nuclear energy research and development project.

Nair’s project, titled “Zeolite Membranes for Krypton/Xenon Separation From Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Off-Gas,” is one of 44 university-led projects to receive funding.

He aims to develop more efficient and robust methods to capture and purify Krypton and Xenon from the nuclear fuel cycle. Krypton-85 and Xenon-136 are released as off-gases when spent nuclear fuel is reprocessed.

Kr-85 is radioactive and must be stored as waste for many years. Separating it from the much larger amount of non-radioactive Xe-136 present in the off-gas would greatly reduce the volume of waste for storage, and purified Xe-136 is a commercially valuable gas used in applications such as lighting, anesthesia and medical imaging.

Conventional methods for separating these gases involve distillation at cryogenic temperatures, which is not considered economical. The two noble gases are chemically inert, making it difficult to find high-performance, radiation-resistant separation materials.

Nair’s project will develop porous inorganic zeolite membranes for this purpose. It involves a close collaboration with Ramesh Bhave and Barry Spencer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, Tenn.); they will be involved in evaluating the radiation-resistance of the membranes under realistic conditions.

Story by Allison Caughey, Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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Status
  • Created By: Amy Schneider
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Aug 27, 2014 - 11:42am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:16pm