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A membrane of multiwall carbon nanotubes embedded in a silicon nitride matrix was fabricated for use in studying fluid mechanics on the nanometer scale. Characterization by fluorescent tracer diffusion and scanning electron microscopy suggests that the membrane is void-free near the silicon substrate on which it rests, implying that the hollow core of the nanotube is the only conduction path for molecular transport. Assuming Knudsen diffusion through this nanotube membrane, a maximum helium transport rate (for a pressure drop of 1 atm) of 0.25 cc/sec is predicted. Helium flow measurements of a nanoporous silicon nitride membrane, fabricated by sacrificial removal of carbon, give a flow rate greater than 1×10-6 cc/sec. For viscous, laminar flow conditions, water is estimated to flow across the nanotube membrane (under a 1 atm pressure drop) at up to 2.8×10-5 cc/sec (1.7 μL/min).
Argonne National Laboratory has developed a glass-bonded sodalite ceramic waste form to immobilize fission products and plutonium that accumulate during the electrometallurgical conditioning of spent nuclear fuel. To investigate the effects of alpha decay damage on the structure and leaching characteristics of the ceramic material, 238Pu has been incorporated into the ceramic waste form. The 238pu,with its high specific activity, significantly increases the rate of alpha damage to the waste form. Long term studies have begun with periodic examination of the 238Pu loaded ceramic material. A number of characterization techniques are used to study the alpha decay damage on the structure of the waste form. In addition, PCT type leachate studies will be performed to determine the effect of alpha decay damage on the durability of the ceramic waste form. Preliminary results from this study are presented.