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Leaching Behavior of Zirconolite-Rich Synroc Used to Immobilize High-Fired Plutonium Oxide

  • K. P. Hart (a1), E. R. Vance (a2), M. W. A. Stewart (a2), J. Weir (a2), M. L. Carter (a2), M. Hambley (a2), A. Brownscombe (a2), R. A. Day (a2), S. Leung (a2), C. J. Ball (a2), B. Ebbinghaus (a3), L. Gray (a3) and T. Kan (a3)...


This study reports on the use of zirconolite-rich Synroc to demonstrate the safe immobilisation of ‘high-fired’ Pu02. The zirconolite-rich Synroc used in this study was prepared by adding 13 wt% Pu with equimolar amounts of Gd and Hf, relative to Pu, as neutron absorbers. The incorporation of the Pu and neutron absorbers has been studied microstructurally as well as by longer-term leach testing. This work has shown that the sintered ceramic can immobilise 13 wt% of Pu with almost complete incorporation of the Pu (≃ 98%) into the zirconolite phase. Durability studies have shown that under a wide range of leaching conditions there is no major separation of the Pu and neutron absorbers, with the majority of these elements either remaining in the matrix or leaching at low (< 10−4 g m−2 d−1) and comparable rates from the waste form.



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[1]Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium”, Committee on International Security and Arms Control, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington DC, 1994.
[2] Ringwood, A. E., Kesson, S. E., Reeve, K. D., Levins, D. M. and Ramm, E. J., in Radionuclide Waste Forms for the Future, edited by Lutze, W. and Ewing, R. C. (Elsevier, North Holland, 1988), pp 233334.
[3] Jostsons, A., Vance, E. R., Mercer, D. J. and Oversby, V. M., Synroc for Immobilising Excess Weapons Plutonium, in Scientific Basis for Nuclear Waste Management, edited by Murakami, T. and Ewing, R. C. (Materials Research Society, Pittsburgh, PA, 1995) pp 775–82.
[4] Vance, E. R., Begg, B. D., Day, R. A. and Ball, C. J., Zirconolite-based Ceramics for Actinide Wastes, ibid., pp 767–4.
[5] Hart, K. P., Glassley, W. E. and McGlinn, P. J. (1992), Solubility control of actinide elements leached from Synroc in pH-


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