Separation of 85Kr from spent nuclear fuel by a highly selective metal organic framework. Nuclear energy provides about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, and over half of its carbon-free generating capacity. Operations of commercial nuclear reactors produce small quantities of spent fuel, which in some countries is reprocessed to extract materials that can be recycled as fuel in other reactors. Key to the improvement of the economics of this fuel cycle is the capture of gaseous radioactive products of fission such as 85krypton.
Therefore, developing efficient technology to capture and secure 85krypton from the mix of effluent gasses would represent a significant improvement in the management of used nuclear fuels. One promising avenue is the adsorption of gasses into an advanced type of soft crystalline material, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which have extremely high porosity and enormous internal surface area and can incorporate a vast array of organic and inorganic components.
Recently published research by a multidisciplinary group that includes members of MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) represents one of the first steps toward practical application of MOFs for nuclear fuel management, with novel findings on efficacy and radiation resistance, and an initial concept for implementation.