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Reactions in Cemented Nuclear Waste forms – the Need for a Toolbox of Different Cement Types

  • Neil B Milestone (a1), Yun Bai (a1), Paulo R Borges (a1), Nick C Collier Jean-Phillipe Gorce (a1), Laura E Gordon (a1), Anthony Setiadi (a1), Claire A Utton (a1) and Qizhi Zhou (a1)...

Abstract

Encapsulation of low and intermediate level waste (LLW and ILW) into a monolithic waste form is a key method for preparing such wastes for storage and ultimate disposal. One of the most efficient ways of doing this is by cementation, successfully used for much of today's operational waste in the UK. Formulations are based on composite cements where high levels ofpulverised fuel ash or blast furnace slag replace ordinary Portland cement (OPC). These provide cementing systems with good fluidity, lowered heat of hydration and a matrix with lower porosity and permeability. Further the alkaline hydrated calcium silicate matrix ensures insolubility of many metal hydroxides and hydrated oxides. Dealing with historic or legacy wastes presents a challenge as for many, a suitable cementing formulation has yet to be devised. To achieve ultimate durability, likely interactions between the waste and the cementing matrix need to be well understood when choosing the cement system to be used. The alkaline OPC based matrix causes corrosion with metals such as Al and Mg and porous silicates and layered metal hydroxides used to selectively remove radionucleides react in the alkaline environment, potentially releasing the adsorbed species. Slurries of materials normally considered inert show interactions within the OPC composite systems, although these are not considered detrimental for durability. This paper describes the chemistry of some interactions that occur within OPC composite cements. It also details some results for alternative cementing systems that may provide a toolbox of cement types that may address many of the interaction issues. These include calcium sulphoaluminate cements, inorganic polymers or geopolymers, and activated slag systems.

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