Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Glass offers improved means of storing nuclear waste, researchers say

Date:
August 22, 2012
Source:
University of Sheffield
Summary:
Researchers have shown, for the first time, that a method of storing nuclear waste normally used only for high level waste, could provide a safer, more efficient, and potentially cheaper, solution for the storage and ultimate disposal of intermediate level waste.

University of Sheffield researchers have shown, for the first time, that a method of storing nuclear waste normally used only for High Level Waste (HLW), could provide a safer, more efficient, and potentially cheaper, solution for the storage and ultimate disposal of Intermediate Level Waste (ILW).

Related Articles


ILW makes up more than three quarters of the volume of material destined for geological disposal in the UK.1

Currently the UK's preferred method is to encapsulate ILW in specially formulated cement. The waste is mixed with cement and sealed in steel drums, in preparation for disposal deep underground.

Two studies, published in the latest issues of The Journal of Nuclear Materials and European Journal of Glass Science and Technology A show that turning this kind of waste into glass, a process called vitrification, could be a better method for its long-term storage, transport and eventual disposal.

HLW is already processed using this technology which reduces both the reactivity and the volume of the waste produced. Until now, this method has not been considered suitable for ILW because the technology was not developed to handle large quantities of waste composed from a variety of different materials.

The research programme, funded by the UK's NDA and led by Professor Neil Hyatt in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, at the University of Sheffield, tested simulated radioactive waste materials -- those with the same chemical and physical makeup, but with non-radioactive isotopes -- to produce glass and assess its suitability for storing lower grades of nuclear waste.

The process used to produce the glass waste storage packages is straightforward: the waste is dried, mixed with glass forming materials such as iron oxide or sodium carbonate, heated to make glass and finally poured into a container. For certain wastes -- for example radioactively contaminated sand -- the waste is actually used in the glass-making process.

A key discovery made by the Sheffield team was that the glasses produced for ILW proved to be very resistant to damage by energetic gamma rays, produced from the decay of radioactive materials.

"We found that gamma irradiation produced no change in the physical properties of these glasses, and no evidence that the residual radiation caused defects," said Professor Hyatt. "We think this is due to the presence of iron in the glass, which helps heal any defects so they cannot damage the material.

"For large volumes of waste that need to be stored securely, then transported to and eventually disposed of, vitrification could offer improved safety and cost effectiveness," explains Professor Hyatt.

Dr Darrell Morris, Research Manager, NDA said: "We welcome this fundamental research demonstrating a possible alternative means of treating ILW. We look forward to seeing further progress on the applicability of this technology to the UK's waste inventory."

1 Radioactive Waste in the UK: The 2010 Estimate of Radioactive Waste for Geological Disposal


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Sheffield. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Bingham, P.A.; Hyatt, N.C.; Hand, R.J. Vitrification of UK intermediate level radioactive wastes arising from site decommissioning: property modelling and selection of candidate host glass compositions. European Journal of Glass Science and Technology A, Volume 53, Number 3, June 2012 [link]
  2. O.J. McGann, P.A. Bingham, R.J. Hand, A.S. Gandy, M. Kavčič, M. Žitnik, K. Bučar, R. Edge, N.C. Hyatt. The effects of γ-radiation on model vitreous wasteforms intended for the disposal of intermediate and high level radioactive wastes in the United Kingdom. Journal of Nuclear Materials, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2012.04.007

Cite This Page:

University of Sheffield. "Glass offers improved means of storing nuclear waste, researchers say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822101115.htm>.
University of Sheffield. (2012, August 22). Glass offers improved means of storing nuclear waste, researchers say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822101115.htm
University of Sheffield. "Glass offers improved means of storing nuclear waste, researchers say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120822101115.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins