Renewable fuel additives produced via nuclear radiation

Radiation from spent nuclear fuel could be used to create a valuable fuel additive required for renewable biodiesel. A paper published in Nature Communications Chemistry (September edition) revealed that unexplored renewable processes can be realized by using ionizing radiation (gamma rays) produced from spent fuel pools. Scientists have made a remarkable achievement of getting solketal, a biodiesel additive with the help of radiation produced by a nuclear reactor.

Biodiesel is the renewable fuel produced by vegetable oils, animal fats, leaf waste, or recycled restaurant waste. Biodiesel is a domestically produced, clean-burning, renewable substitute for petroleum diesel. Using it as a vehicle fuel increases energy security, improves air quality and the environment, and provides safety benefits.

“Nuclear-driven production of renewable fuel additives from waste organics” paper written by scientists from Slovenia’s Jožef Stefa Institute. The paper explains the process of extracting biodiesel which produces low-grade glycerol by-products. Currently, this low-grade glycerol is disposed of in huge quantities by the industries into rivers.

The neutrons and gamma irradiation inside the nuclear reactor can catalyze glycerol through radio catalytic effect (radiation to increase the rate of the chemical process). It helps to create a highly valuable fuel additive known as solketal, which is used to make biodiesel and other liquid fuels. This research has opened new possibilities for the use of radiation from nuclear power plants and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities for the conversion of waste chemicals into useful agents. This is the cheapest and reliable way to reduce the disposal of harmful chemicals to rivers and ponds from the industries.

Source:
World Nuclear News

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