Challenges with processing and performance of high level nuclear waste glasses: Past, present and future

Reference Presenter Authors
10-037 Ashutosh Goel Goel, A.(Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey); McCloy, J.(Washington State University); Kruger, A.(U.S. Department of Energy); The Hanford site in Washington State houses ~56 million gallons of radioactive wastes stored in 177 underground tanks, generated as a result of 45 years of plutonium production in support of the nation’s defense programs. This waste must be immobilized and permanently stored, and the plan is to separate the tank wastes into low activity waste (LAW) and high level waste (HLW) streams. The U.S. Department of Energy is building a Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at Hanford site to separately vitrify these two waste streams in borosilicate glass using Joule-heated ceramic melters (JHCM). Although the process of nuclear waste immobilization via vitrification seems simple, in practicality, it is faced with complex problems starting from the design of glass compositions (owing to the compositional complexity of waste), to processing in melters and long term performance of the final vitrified waste forms. The presentation will focus on the following three major problems related with processing and performance of HLW glasses – (i) spinel crystallization in melters, (ii) nepheline crystallization during cooling of melt in steel canisters, and (iii) long-term performance of HLW glasses. The current state-of-the-art summarizing our understanding on these topics followed by open scientific questions pertaining to these problems will be discussed.
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