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CRT Challenge reveals nuclear promise

United States – After screening more than 100 innovative and diverse entries for the CRT Challenge competition, a winner has been announced by the US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and crowdsourcing leader InnoCentive. The winning solution proposed using recycled cathode ray tube (CRT) glass as a component in the vitrification of nuclear waste.

The CRT competition, now in its second year, is intended to encourage businesses to develop ‘compelling’ economic and environmentally preferable solutions for recycling old CRT televisions and monitors. This year, according to the three organisers, one idea ‘stood out from the rest’: the vitrification option suggested by Dr Thomas Engelhardt, senior executive advisor to the International Petroleum Investment Company.

This process, which won the X-ray and spectroscopy expert US$ 10 000, involves melting nuclear waste materials with glass-forming additives so that the final vitreous product incorporates the waste contaminants. Plans are already in place for significant volumes of nuclear waste to be vitrified – especially in the USA, notes Engelhardt.

Runner-up and winner of US$ 5000 was Dr Mariano Velez, a senior research engineer at Mo-Sci Corp, who offered a two-step proposal: to conduct an extensive literature review on manufacturing processes for using CRT-related waste glass; and to create an approach for developing a property/composition model for using CRT glass waste forms to treat nuclear wastes by making chemical durable borosilicate glasses ‘geologically stable’.

‘These award-winning ideas are the latest step in determining how to responsibly recycle billions of pounds of lead-heavy CRT glass as consumers switch from CRT electronics to liquid crystal, light-emitting diode and plasma displays,’ commented Walter Alcorn, CEA vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability.


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