US-based Curio is working with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) on a fuel recycling project funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) through its Technology Commercialisation Fund. The project focuses on assessing the economic viability of various technologies for noble gas separation from nuclear reprocessing plants. This is one of 50 innovative clean energy projects receiving a combined $41.4m in DOE funding.

The aim of the project is to assess the economic viability of a room temperature adsorption process based on metal-organic framework (MOF) for separating noble gases. It will compare energy costs and economic impacts with traditional cryogenic distillation methods and charcoal-based adsorption processes. The initiative seeks to develop more energy-efficient and cost-effective solutions for noble gas separation, leveraging advanced MOF technology.

The project, co-led by PNNL researcher Praveen Thallapally, hopes to demonstrate the potential of MOFs to enable selective and efficient capture of noble gases from a reprocessing off-gas stream, offering significant advantages in terms of energy savings and overall economic viability.

“This project not only meets regulatory requirements for environmental release but also creates and sustains a market for noble gases,” said Curio CEO Ed McGinnis. “DOE’s investment in this project further underscores the importance of developing technologies that enhance the efficiency and sustainability of nuclear fuel recycling.”

By exploring the economic benefits of MOF-based noble gas separation, Curio aims to accelerate the adoption of this promising technology in the nuclear sector.