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Sat Oct 19, 2019, 05:16 AM

Physicists discover new stable form of plutonium

Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Using the European Synchrotron, a team of physicists have identified a new stable form of plutonium. The newly discovered compound exists in a solid state and features an unexpected, pentavalent oxidation state.

The discovery, detailed this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, was an accident. Researchers originally set out to develop improved methods for preventing nuclear meltdowns and accidents, as well as the scope of the ensuing fallout.

To replicate the release and spread of radioactive nuclides into and throughout the environment -- and thus, develop preventative and control strategies -- scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf synthesized and observed the behavior of actinides, a group of metallic elements that are heavy, radioactive and very unstable.

To create actinides, scientists use precursors. The researchers discovered the new compound while attempting to create plutonium dioxide nanoparticles using a Pu (VI) precursor.

Read more: https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2019/10/18/Physicists-discover-new-stable-form-of-plutonium/9521571427933/

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Reply Physicists discover new stable form of plutonium (Original post)
TexasTowelie Oct 19 OP
DetlefK Oct 19 #1
Igel Oct 19 #3
NNadir Oct 19 #2

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 06:33 AM

1. The headline is misleading. They found a chemically stable variant, not a radioactively stable one.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/anie.201911637

They synthesized a chemical compound containing Plutonium, NH4PuO2CO3, that is very stable chemically speaking, reducing the risk of Plutonium leaving whatever host-matrix it is in and entering the environment.

The article is NOT about a new Plutonium-isotope.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 01:53 PM

3. Meh, isotope, compound.

It's all that science-y stuff that's so hard to understand.

Next you'll be saying water's not an element and then the real heresy, that humans are made of molecules and atoms.

(Seriously, I had a student tell me that once. God made her, so she wasn't made out of molecules and atoms like a desk or a rock. Or even a dog. Could have been a teachable moment for her, I guess, but I just stared for a good 30 seconds and could think of nothing I could say that was allowed. It was a teachable moment for me. Oh. She was a high-school junior, family income well north of $100k, both parents college educated. But not in STEM.)

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Oct 19, 2019, 08:25 AM

2. Thank you. The original paper, which is not in its final form, but is accepted...

...makes the point that the only mechanism for plutonium mobilization is via colloids, since PuO2 is highly insoluble.

The full original paper is open sourced and is here: A novel metastable pentavalent plutonium solid phase...

PuO2 actually has two forms, one of which represents a polymer, which is extremely resistant to dissolution. This has been a problem in past plutonium processing operations. It does however, limit or eliminate the ability for absorption of plutonium into tissues in any fashion other than mechanical.

It's a fascinating element, this last best hope for humanity from itself, with the rather odd property of exhibiting multiple oxidation states at the same time in solution, and, as the full paper suggests, perhaps in the solid phase.

The properties of the metal are also amazing. Plutonium exhibits the most known phases of any metal, and has the interesting property of being like water inasmuch as it has a solid phase that is lighter than the liquid phase. I have been studying liquid phase plutonium - as much as I can find - for several years now, because it does seem to me that these liquid phases, including but not limited to eutectic mixtures, offer fabulous opportunities now that materials science has become so advanced.

Thanks again for this interesting note. I have added the full paper to my electronic library.

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