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PNNL researcher recognized with chemical separations award

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September 15, 2015 Share This!

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RICHLAND, Wash. — A chemist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been selected to receive the Glenn T. Seaborg Actinide Separations Award recognizing significant and lasting contributions to separating actinide elements, such as plutonium and uranium. Gregg Lumetta was honored for his contributions which are being used to treat high-level radioactive waste in Hanford waste tanks and for the design and application of new ligands (molecules that bond to metal ions) to bind specific elements for waste cleanup applications.

Lumetta leads PNNL's Actinide Science Team and serves as the principal investigator for a DOE project seeking to develop new methods for separating actinides from irradiated nuclear fuel. He also plays a lead technical role in preparing plutonium oxide specimens for nuclear forensics applications. He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, and has published 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

He was selected to receive the award for accomplishments in applying the transuranium extraction (TRUEX) process to the pre-treatment of high-level radioactive sludges inside Hanford underground waste tanks. In particular, he successfully demonstrated this concept for separating the transuranic elements plutonium and americium into smaller volumes for immobilization in borosilicate glass, leaving the remaining material to be managed as low-level waste.

Additionally, he investigated leaching of aluminum from the sludge with sodium hydroxide as a front-end process to TRUEX. This leaching method was subsequently incorporated into the flowsheet currently planned for the Pretreatment Facility at the Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.

Other accomplishments include the development of new ligands for cleanup, application of existing ligands for plutonium separation, and development of new methods for separating minor actinides such as americium and curium from dissolved irradiated fuel.

Lumetta is the sixth PNNL staff member to receive the award. He was honored at the annual Actinide Separations Conference in Salt Lake City in May.

Tags: Energy, Environment, Fundamental Science, Awards and Honors, Environmental Remediation, Chemistry

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