News & Events
Scientists accidentally discovered a stable form of plutonium
- October 28, 2019
- Posted by: Wiley M. Wagner
- Category: Science
Plutonium is a really promising version of an unstable chemical element, since it offers a significant amount of energy in its potential use. However, its instability can lead to really serious environmental consequences, since some of its isotopes are so stable in the environment that tens of millions of years can exist. To avoid this – especially during transportation and storage of plutonium – scientists are striving to develop new methods for such procedures. So a talented team of specialists from Dresden-Roserdorf in Germany managed to determine a new stable form of plutonium.
Moreover, this happened quite by accident, since the original goal of the researchers was to conduct an experiment with the aim of establishing the most stable chemical precursor of plutonium in order to better store it. When they got to experiments using Plutonium-4 in water, they discovered a strange phase when it was converted. The fact is that during the conversion of this precursor from gas to a liquid state, they noticed that it becomes solid and stable for some time in its chemical reaction.
Having rechecked the data with alternative precursors, the team of scientists confirmed their finding and determined that it was Plutonium-4 that is the most promising form for safer storage and transportation of plutonium per se. Moreover, the process of reverse conversion from this precursor is as fast and simple as direct, which gives scientists a very large scope for subsequent experiments with the potential establishment of new relationships.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that plutonium-4 seems to be a very experimental form-factor for further research regarding the possibility of safer substance handling. So at this stage, German scientists continue their research and hope in the near future to shed light on some of the features and interesting patterns found in this transition phase of plutonium.