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Initial studies on the effects of radiation, thermal ageing and aqueous environments on the stability and structure of candidate polymeric encapsulant materials

  • J. Dawson (a1), V. Smith (a1), J. Clifford (a2) and S. J. Williams (a3)

Abstract

The current route in the UK for the conditioning and immobilization of most intermediate level waste for interim storage and geological disposal is to encapsulate in a cementitious matrix. However, certain waste materials, such as those containing reactive metals (e.g. uranium and aluminium), can corrode in the presence of the highly alkaline water in a cementitious environment. In their initial, undegraded form, polymeric materials can provide the appropriate, unreactive environment needed for the encapsulation of chemically active metals.

This study examines the effects of gamma radiation on the stability of six candidate polymeric encapsulants, including a vinyl ester styrene resin (VES) and five epoxy resin formulations. The polymeric encapsulants were exposed to radiation doses up to 10 MGy using AMEC's cobalt-60 gamma irradiation facility and their radiation and chemical stability characterized by the use of a number of analytical techniques. These included flexural and compressive testing, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), gel fraction, leach testing and gas evolution. The results show that the most stable resin in terms of radiation resistance and chemical stability was VES. Most of the epoxy resin materials also showed good generic stability, but the FTIR analysis showed the potential for dose-rate effects in one formulation.

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Copyright

© [2012] The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

References

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Dawson, J., Baston, G., Cowper, M. and Marshall, T. (2010). The Effects of Gamma Radiation and Thermal Ageing on the Stability of Candidate Polymeric Encapsulant Materials. SERCO report for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, SERCO/TAS/002008/001 Issue 02.
Diversified Technologies (2000) ENCAP Encapsulation Utilizing the VERI (Vinyl Ester Resin In Situ) Solidification Process. Topical Report, DT-VERI- 100-NP/P-A, (Docket number WM-105R1), Addendum 1.
Lever, A.E. and Rhys, J.A. (1968) The Properties and Testing of Plastic Materials. Hamlyn Publishing Group, Faltham, Middlesex, UK, 57 pp.
Poulson, S., Tuson, A. and Twissell, M. (2006) An Investigation into the Leaching of Vinyl Ester Polymer Sample. Waste Management Technology Ltd report, WMT(04)P042 Issue 3.

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