LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 11 (UPI) — Scientists say a newly created form of uranium could lead to nuclear power plants small enough to power the family automobile.
Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have created a configuration of uranium nitride that one day could provide cheaper and safer nuclear fuel, ABC News reported Monday.
In the new molecule, the nitrogen atom is bonded to only one uranium atom, versus prior forms where the nitrogen atom has always been bonded to two or more uranium atoms.
Smaller, cheaper and even portable nuclear power plants could come out of the discovery, researchers say, using this form of uranium nitride as a next generation nuclear fuel.
“Actinide nitrides are candidate nuclear fuels of the future,” Jaqueline Kiplinger, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who led the team of researchers, said.
While uranium’s radiation can be deadly, the new molecule contains only depleted uranium.
This makes is relatively harmless from a radiological standpoint and means it could be used in chemical and industrial applications, scientists say.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.