BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 19:08 GMT
Hopes for nuclear waste 'Pacman'
Pacman molecule
The Pacman-shaped molecule may have uses in handling waste
Researchers have designed a molecule which they hope may help develop ways of dealing with nuclear waste.

Scientists at Edinburgh University have taken uranium and enclosed it in a specially designed molecular "scaffold" to make it more reactive.

They said no-one had "tricked" uranium like this before and experts hope to discover new ways of removing uranium from contaminated water.

The new compound was described as resembling Pacman with a horn.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

The new uranium molecule behaves in a similar way to the more reactive and radioactive plutonium, which is another problematic component of nuclear waste.

The findings may also help develop a better understanding of plutonium compounds and also widen the potential use of uranium as a safer alternative in place of plutonium for research purposes.

Polly Arnold, of Edinburgh University's school of chemistry, said: "We have tricked uranium into behaving in a way that it has never before - these findings will help scientists in the future to better understand the behaviour of these materials and ultimately improve our ability to deal with nuclear materials and waste."

SEE ALSO
Nuclear waste store plan pondered
13 Jan 08 |  Scotland
Nuclear industry glows with pleasure
11 Jan 08 |  Science/Nature

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific