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C. New Materials Studied to Safely Store Nuclear Waste

Narrator: This is Science Today. As the power crisis continues in the West, there's been some national interest in the use of nuclear power. But one of the issues that has yet to be resolved is the long-term storage of nuclear waste. It's a problem researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have been working on. Kurt Sickafus, a staff scientist at the Lab, says the materials currently encasing radioactive waste degrade over time.

Sickafus: This is a problem with all materials and it's particularly one of the major limitations of a material for long-term storage. You must find a material, which is essentially flexible enough to withstand this very high damage from the radioactive decay.

Narrator: Sickafus and his colleagues have found that certain ceramic materials that have structures similar to fluorite crystals are very tolerant of radioactive decay.

Sickafus: Our hope is that this will be an important step to get a number of our colleagues in the study of waste forms to take an interest in crystalline waste forms and in particular, the kinds of structures we've proposed looking at in this study.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.