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The long-term behavior of nuclear glass subjected to alpha radiation by minor actinides must be investigated with a view to geological disposal. This study focuses on the effect of alpha radiation on the chemical reactivity of R7T7 glass with pure water, mainly on the residual alteration rate regime. A glass specimen doped with 0.85 wt% 239PuO2 (α emitter) is leached under static conditions in argon atmosphere at 90°C and at a high surface-area-to-volume ratio (S/V = 20 cm−1). The alteration rate is monitored by the release of glass alteration tracer elements (B, Na and Li). Radiation effects on the leached glass and its gel network are characterized by SEM and TEM analyses. Plutonium release is also measured by radiometry and its chemical oxidation state is assessed by measuring the pH and redox potential of the leachates. The results do not highlight any significant effect of alpha radiation on the residual alteration of this doped glass. This observation is consistent with SEM and TEM characterizations, which show that a protective layer can be formed under alpha radiation. Very low concentrations of soluble plutonium are measured in the leachate. These Pu releases are three orders of magnitude lower than the boron release, indicating strong plutonium retention.
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