A preliminary study on the bioseperation of Carbon-14 was carried out using a mixed-culture of microorganisms obtained from the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Company (PBMR). The culture demonstrated the ability to bioaccumulate radiocarbon-14 (C-14) from solution. The experiment consisting of a growth vessel and a biofilter connected in a closed loop. The biofilter was not installed for the purpose of treatment but rather as a method of isolation of microorganisms for further processing. Significant amounts of C-14 were detected in the trapped cells in the biofilter, significantly higher than in controls taken before adding carbon sources containing C-14. The microorganisms were grown under micro-aerobic conditions with graphite carbon and commercially purchased powdered carbon as the predominant supplied carbon sources. Small amounts of sucrose (500 mg/L) were added at 48 hour intervals to promote the growth of heterotrophic microorganisms. Additional work is required to determine the amount of C-14 escaping through gases produced as a product of metabolism (CO2 and CO) and the total carbon metabolized by the microorganisms in order to report with accuracy the degree of separation of C-14 from the C-14/C-12 mixture. A proof of concept study is underway to determine the C-14 mass balance, characterize the microorganisms in the reactor, and establish the presence or absence of processes that might have affected the preliminary observations.
- Nuclear Division and Environmental Engineering Division
Development of a Carbon-14 Bioseperation Technique for Cleanup of Nuclear Graphite
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Molokwane, PE, & Chirwa, EMN. "Development of a Carbon-14 Bioseperation Technique for Cleanup of Nuclear Graphite." Proceedings of the The 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management. 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B. Bruges, Belgium. September 2–6, 2007. pp. 113-117. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICEM2007-7164
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