Separation Anxiety No More: A Faster Technique to Purify Elements
(From left) Rebecca Abergel, Abel Ricano, and Gauthier Deblonde of Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division have pioneered a faster method of purifying elements. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)
The actinides – those chemical elements on the bottom row of the periodic table – are used in applications ranging from medical treatments to space exploration to nuclear energy production. But purifying the target element so it can be used, by separating out contaminants and other elements, can be difficult and time-consuming.
Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a new separation method that is vastly more efficient than conventional processes, opening the door to faster discovery of new elements, easier nuclear fuel reprocessing, and, most tantalizing, a better way to attain actinium-225, a promising therapeutic isotope for cancer treatment.
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