A vitrification technology utilizing a lanthanide borosilicate (LaBS) glass is a viable option for dispositioning excess weapons-useable plutonium that is not suitable for processing into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel. A significant effort to develop a glass formulation and vitrification process to immobilize plutonium was completed in the mid-1990s. The LaBS glass formulation was found to be capable of immobilizing in excess of 10 wt % Pu and to be tolerant of a range of impurities. A more detailed study is now needed to quantify the ability of the glass to accommodate the anticipated impurities associated with the Pu feeds now slated for disposition.
The database of Pu feeds was reviewed to identify impurity species and concentration ranges for these impurities. Based on this review, a statistically designed test matrix of glass compositions was developed to evaluate the ability of the LaBS glass to accommodate the impurities. Sixty surrogate LaBS glass compositions were prepared in accordance with the statistically designed test matrix. The heterogeneity (e.g. degree of crystallinity) and durability (as measured by the Product Consistency Test – Method A (PCT–A)) of the glasses were used to assess the effects of impurities on glass quality.