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Questions on Neutralizing Radioactive Materials

  1. Apr 22, 2014 #1

    I am doing a survey on existing methods of cleaning up radioactive materials for a personal project on cleanup of existing radiated sites. I have done some googling but some things still remain unclear so I'm going to ask you all on the forum. Here are the questions:

    1. How are radioactive materials currently neutralized?

    From my research it seems that the only way to ensure the material gets neutralized is to force the radioactive atom to undergo a proton or neutron captures until reaching a stable isotope. Or if it becomes more radioactive through proton or neutron captures, break apart the radioactive atom through fission.

    2. Can these methods be used on a laboratory scale to neutralize radioactive materials?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2014 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Most radioactive materials are isolated from the environment and allowed to decay.

    At some sites, the radioactive material is collected and then either encapsulated or calcined and vitrified, i.e., transformed into a glass or ceramic form, which will eventually be placed in a repository.

    Generally, that is not economical. There is some thought about 'transmuting' heavy actinides with protons or neutrons in order to cause fissions. That thermal energy could be used to produce electricity or heat, but there are no commercial facilities doing transmutation on a large scale.
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