One of the major challenges of nuclear energy is how to deal with nuclear waste. The radioactive spent fuel needs to be reprocessed to make sure it is safe. Xenon and krypton are two of the dangerous gases made during the reprocessing, so scientists need to think about how to trap these gases. Currently, the gases are cooled to extremely low temperatures (lower than - 200 °C) where they convert into liquids and can be separated out. However, scientists are now exploring new ways of storing these gases at room temperature, which is much cheaper and less of an explosion risk! Molecular sponges like this metal-organic framework are one option and this particular framework can store both xenon and krypton. The scientists had to test over 125,000 of these framework structures before they identified the optimal one, so these experiments are not trivial!
More info about the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in crystals project:
This project (#IYPTCrystals) is part of the International Year of the Periodic Table celebration (#IYPT2019), read more about the project here. You can follow us on social media using #IYPTCrystals and learn more about the wonders of crystals by following the CCDC on Twitter @ccdc_cambridge on Facebook ccdc.cambridge, on Instagram ccdc_cambridge or on YouTube CCDCCambridge.
If you want to find out more about some of the terms and concepts we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page.