0446 GMT February 29, 2020
The $8.6-million sale helps Iran meet a commitment under last July’s nuclear deal to shed heavy water, sciencemag.org reported.
“We’re securing material that will allow us to do great science,” says Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. DOE will resell a portion to industry for uses such as nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and protecting optical fibers and semiconductors against deterioration by blasting them with deuterium gas. DOE will also send six tons to Oak Ridge for an upgrade of the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), the world’s most powerful accelerator-driven machine for generating neutrons for research.
Deuterium – hydrogen with an added neutron – accounts for just one in every 6420 hydrogen atoms. That neutron makes heavy water (D2O) more efficient than regular water at slowing neutrons and initiating fission. As a result, a handful of countries use it as a moderator in nuclear power reactors.
The heavy water purchase could open the floodgates to other collaborations with Iran. According to the nuclear agreement, Iran’s Fordo uranium enrichment facility is slated to become an international S&T center.