The Ohio State University is among four sites around the country chosen for new research centers by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today.
The Center for Performance and Design of Nuclear Waste Forms and Containers (WastePD) will receive $10 million over the next four years, and will be the first of DOE’s 36 Energy Frontier Research Centers nationwide to be headquartered in the state of Ohio.
WastePD’s goal will be to “accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to support the DOE’s environmental management and nuclear cleanup mission” through “basic research aimed at assisting with the cleanup of hazardous waste that resulted from decades of nuclear weapons research and production during the 20th century,” DOE announced today.
Gerald Frankel, professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State, will lead WastePD, which will bring together expertise from several partner universities and laboratories nationwide.
Frankel and his team will study materials at the atomic level, with the idea of making discoveries that will lead to future cleanup and storage technologies—a daunting task, since nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel today exist in various forms, including liquids, solids, and sludge.
The research will not involve any use of radioactive waste on campus. Rather, the researchers will work to design new materials that will contain nuclear waste.
Specifically, the Ohio State researchers and their partners will aim to understand how such waste might be converted into stable solids that are unlikely to degrade—and, thus, unlikely to leak radiation—for hundreds of thousands of years. Ultimately, the waste may be incorporated into new glass or ceramic materials, or even new kinds of metals.