UI chemistry professor says nuke waste can be recycled

UI chemistry professor says nuke waste can be recycled
MOSCOW- It's being called a sustainable way to take care of nuclear waste and we might have to thank the person who came up with decaf coffee.

It's a culmination of 20 years of work for UI Chemistry Professor Chien Wai. In collaboration with AREVA, a company involved in sustainable nuclear power, Wai developed a way to reuse uranium from the ashes of radioactive garbage currently sitting in Richland, Washington.

"This is the first industrial demonstration of a green technology for treating nuclear waste in a profitable way," Wai said at an agreement signing ceremony with AREVA Wednesday.

In simple terms, Wai came up with a substance that can extract the toxic metal, the same way caffeine has been taken out of whole coffee beans for decades.

That uranium can be recycled, and turned over for quite the profit.

"Out of this 30 tons, they can recover approximately $6 million of enriched uranium," said Wai. "This amount of money is enough to build a plant for this new process."

The agreement, which was signed on the UI campus, moves forward plans for a recycling plant in Richland. Wai thinks getting millions of dollars out of a pile of garbage, among other things, will show the public nuclear energy is getting about as green as you can get.

"I'm very sure this will have a positive impact on public opinion and make nuclear energy more acceptable to this country," said Wai.