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Synthesis of simulant ‘lava-like’ fuel containing materials (LFCM) from the Chernobyl reactor Unit 4 meltdown

  • Sean T. Barlow (a1), Daniel J. Bailey (a1), Adam J. Fisher (a1), Martin C. Stennett (a1), Claire L. Corkhill (a1) and Neil C. Hyatt (a1)...

Abstract

A preliminary investigation of the synthesis and characterization of simulant ‘lava-like’ fuel containing materials (LFCM), as low activity analogues of LFCM produced by the melt down of Chernobyl Unit 4. Simulant materials were synthesized by melting batched reagents in a tube furnace at 1500 °C, under reducing atmosphere with controlled cooling to room temperature, to simulate conditions of lava formation. Characterization using XRD and SEM-EDX identified several crystalline phases including ZrO2, UOx and solid solutions with spherical metal particles encapsulated by a glassy matrix. The UOX and ZrO2 phase morphology was very diverse comprising of fused crystals to dendritic crystallites from the crystallization of uranium initially dissolved in the glass phase. This project aims to develop simulant LFCM to assess the durability of Chernobyl lavas and to determine the rate of dissolution, behavior and evolution of these materials under shelter conditions.

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