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2023. 09. 22 -

Chemist R. Novikau defends his PhD on trapping of hazardous materials released into the environment

Dr. Raman Novikau. Photo: FTMC
On 22 September, another doctoral thesis was defended at our Center. A scientist from the Department of Environmental Research at FTMC became a PhD with the thesis "Evaluation of the Adsorption Properties of Composite Materials for Caesium, Cobalt, and Europium" (academic supervisor: Dr. Galina Lujanienė).
 
Congratulations to our colleague, good luck for you further significant work!
 
The Thesis focuses on three chemical elements: caesium, cobalt and europium. The danger to the environment and human health comes from radioactive forms of it, as well as from many other radionuclides whose sources in the environment can be, for example, man-made disasters (Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi), nuclear weapons tests, and accidental leaks from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants.
 
Their effects on human health are devastating due to the radiation they emit, leading to an increased risk of cancer or even death.
 
However, Raman says, non-radioactive forms of caesium, cobalt and europium can also pose a risk if there are too many in the environment. This excess, in turn, can be promoted by the active use of the non-radioactive elements caesium, cobalt, and europium in various industrial sectors. Various methods are used to reduce their content in the environment, such as ion exchange, solvent extraction, coagulation, reverse osmosis and electrodeposition.
 
And adsorption, another method, has proven to be a cheap, effective and simple. This is the method that R. Novikau used in his thesis - and studied how it helps trap non-radioactive caesium, cobalt and europium.
 
Adsorption is the process of uptake of substances by any material (adsorbent). "An example of an adsorbent is activated carbon, which we take in cases of poisoning and whose effect is to absorb toxic substances and thus reduce their content in the body," explains Raman.
 
 
(A beautiful but sometimes dangerous element: high-purity caesium-133 stored in argon. Associated photo by Dnn87 / Wikipedia.org)
 
The aim of the Thesis was to develop such adsorbents that meet the following criteria: high efficiency in removing caesium, cobalt, and europium (adsorbents do not neutralise these substances but trap or uptake them, and after extraction of the adsorbent, measures are taken to neutralise them); the materials must be cheap and available for the production of these adsorbents and also have low toxicity.
 
"Our results represent only a first evaluation of the adsorbents investigated. These adsorbents show quite good adsorption properties (ability to adsorb these elements). But only further investigations of these adsorbents will make it possible to decide whether these adsorbents should be used in the industrial sector for water treatment or not.
 
Moreover, the results obtained show the peculiarities of the adsorption behaviour of these elements (i.e. how these elements interact with the adsorbent depending on different conditions (concentration of these elements, pH, contact time of the elements with the adsorbent, etc.)), which may be useful for the development of other adsorbents based on the materials we used," the young researcher says.
 
He adds that these adsorbents are suitable for both radioactive and non-radioactive forms of caesium, cobalt, and europium.
 
FTMC information
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