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Energy and Environment Directorate

Research Capabilities

Radiochemical Science

PNNL provides innovative technical solutions to chemical and radiochemical separation problems through a mix of fundamental separations science and applied process chemistry and testing. The fundamental separations research is founded on the hypothesis that high selectivity for specific ions can be achieved by designing chemical agents (i.e., ligands) that sequester the ion to be separated. New ligands are designed by applying the principles of coordination chemistry and their binding properties investigated through a variety of experimental techniques including liquid-liquid extraction, spectroscopy (e.g., electronic absorption, FTIR, Raman and NMR) and thermochemical methods. PNNL's surface science capabilities include exploring the interactions of actinides with surfaces such as minerals or ion exchange media. The unique radiochemical capabilities of the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory allow transformation of new separation methods from laboratory curiosity to industrial application. This involves development, scale-up and deployment of separations processes. This expertise was developed over the last two decades in addressing processing issues associated with high-level and low-activity mixed tank wastes. Typical technologies exploited include leaching, liquid-liquid extraction, ion exchange and membranes. For more information, see

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Core Research Areas