Study Finds Radiation May Create Valuable Fuel Additive

Researchers have found that radiation from nuclear fuel that has already been used can be utilized in the creation of a fuel additive required for renewable biodiesel. The research, which was conducted by researchers at the Aston University and Lancaster University in the UK as well as the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, was reported in the “Nature Communications Chemistry” journal.

The report called attention to the existence of uncharted renewable processes that can be realized through the use of ionizing radiation. The research highlights that the technique used to make biodiesel produces byproducts like glycerol.

In the report, the researchers state that putting glycerol samples in a reactor helped create solketal, a valuable fuel additive used to make biodiesel as well as other fuels. Renewable biodiesel is an alternative fuel that is similar to fossil or traditional diesel. It is created through a process known as transesterification and possesses many environmentally beneficial properties, including the fact that its carbon neutral.

The researchers also considered other ways solketal could be created in the nuclear industry. One of these ways was to place glycerol-filled tubes in used-fuel pools, which are places where spent and highly radioactive fuel is stored at interim sites and power plants. This technique provides a bigger surface area for the irradiation of glycerol while limiting radiation to gamma rays, which in turn helps avoid neuron activation.

Another way to create this valuable fuel additive would be to put glycerol tubes in the space found between the concrete shield of a reactor’s pressure vessel and the vessel itself. This may, in theory, produce solketal. However, this method has various complications, including the fact that neutron radiation may cause the materials to become radioactive. Additionally, it may also affect power plant operation.

The research proposes that using the fuel-pool technique in a used-fuel pool could produce about 55 solketal tons annually, with projections from the scientists showing that using 180 used-fuel pools in the European Union brings the maximum production capacity of solketal to roughly 10,000 tons annually. The current market price for this additive is $3,000 per ton.

In their report, the researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute note that this finding affords the nuclear industry new possibilities for the use of radiation from used-nuclear-fuel storage facilities and nuclear power plants in the conversion of waste chemicals, adding that this is also a crucial step on the path to sustainable development.

It is good to learn that numerous companies are engaged in finding ways through which the uranium extracted by companies such as Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) can yield beneficial products even after it has been used to generate energy.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UUUU

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