Nuclear Power Daily

Just a few days into 2016, and the first graphene story of the year is already here. New research further suggests there’s nothing graphene can’t do. The wonder material’s latest feat is the production of heavy water — water with higher levels of the hydrogen isotope deuterium.

Graphene sieves work as an ultra-fine filter, separating hydrogen atoms with single-proton nuclei from heavier deuterium atoms. The isotope deuterium is a hydrogen atom with both a proton and a neutron in its nucleus.

Deuterium is used as a tracer in chemistry, biochemistry and environmental sciences. Nuclear power plant operations require significant amounts of heavy water.

The new graphene technology could be scaled to produce large amounts of heavy water much more cheaply and efficiently than current methods.

“This is really the first membrane shown to distinguish between subatomic particles, all at room temperature,” study author Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Manchester, said in a press release. “Now that we showed that it is a fully scalable technology, we hope it will quickly find its way to real applications.”..Read More at Nuclear Power Daily