DISTINCTIVE is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of 10 universities and 3 key industry partners from across the UK’s civil nuclear sector.
PhD/PDRA – PhD
Academic Lead – Mark Platt
Researcher – Laura Mayne
University – Loughborough University
Loughborough University has developed a range of polymeric ligands with the capacity to selectively bind trace radioactive contaminants from solutions containing abundant major cations1, e.g. Na+, Mg2+, Ca2+. These ligands will be immobilised onto silica-coated superparamagnetic beads which can be quickly removed from solution using a magnetic field. We have the ability to synthesise beads of uniform sizes and magnetic properties2,3, which allows us to match a bead size with a specific contaminant, e.g. 0.5 µm with a ligand that binds to radionuclide 1 and a 0.55 µm bead with a ligand that binds to radionuclide 2. During the extraction, the different sized beads can be separated from each other allowing simultaneous separation of target species by magnetophoresis4. The amount of radionuclides bound to the surface ligands will be quantified using a nanopore technology, as the beads are passing through the nanopore, the change in surface charge and ligand structure caused by the presence of the radionuclide can be accurately measured5,6 and has recently been demonstrated with biological components using the same technology with ppb sensitivity7. Potential to remove trace contaminants from ponds and waste streams, without compromising waste management down-stream.
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