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Clemson researcher will study plutonium underground for Energy Department
Date:11/11/2010

computational studies to gain a better picture of how plutonium moves through soil. He will study plutonium interaction with soils from the energy department's Savannah River Site in South Carolina and its Hanford Site on the Columbia River in the state of Washington. He'll then combine that research with quantum-mechanical calculations and X-ray absorption spectroscopy to determine exactly how plutonium interacts with minerals and soils.

Co-principal investigator Yuji Arai, an assistant professor in Clemson's entomology, soil and plant science department, will oversee the spectroscopy experiments. Co-principal investigators Udo Becker and Rodney Ewing at the University of Michigan will oversee quantum mechanical calculations and high-resolution electron microscopy experiments.

"The central part of this work is quantifying the energetics of chemical reactions occurring between plutonium and the soil particles," Powell said. "When plutonium sticks to a soil particle, we don't know how much energy is involved and what the driving forces for the reactions are. If we can determine how much energy is transferred, it will be easier to predict how fast it can move through the subsurface."


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Contact: Brian A. Powell
bpowell@clemson.edu
864-656-1004
Clemson University
Source:Eurekalert

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