Us professors collaborate to develop ways to reduce waste from nuclear reactors

Two New Mexico State University professors are working with two national laboratories and TerraPower to develop a method for recycling spent nuclear fuel. This approach will prevent fuel from being used for weaponry, but will help meet electricity demand sustainably.

Paul Andersen and Cory Windorff, assistant professors of chemistry and biochemistry at NMSU, are joining TerraPower, an energy company co-founded by Bill Gates, the Idaho National Laboratory and the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Andersen and Windorff are in the planning stages of designing chemical reactors to purify spent nuclear fuel, which would ultimately mitigate the dangers of storing nuclear waste by reducing its buildup.

Us professors collaborate to develop ways to reduce waste from nuclear reactors

"(Nuclear power) offers many advantages, but one of its disadvantages is that it produces radioactive waste, "said Paul Andersen, associate professor of chemical and materials engineering at NMSU." Most of the material coming out of the plant still contains a considerable amount of energy and is unusable because of the buildup of radioactive material. So we've come up with a process to recover this nuclear waste and reuse it to get more energy and potentially make it easier to dispose of the remaining waste."

The Department of Energy advanced Research Projects Agency - The department of Energy funded this three-year project with an $8.5 million grant.

The funding is part of ARPA-E's Program to Optimize Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems, which aims to increase the deployment and use of nuclear power as a reliable clean energy source while limiting the waste generated by advanced nuclear reactors.

Using the grant, NMSU professors plan to hire two postdoctoral researchers to work directly with TerraPower of Bellevue, Wash., while planning necessary for eventual technology development.

In the meantime, the professors will have preparatory research to do.

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