The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has taken over ownership of the majority of the UK's separated civil plutonium stocks, which are expected to exceed 100 metric tons by 2010. Studies to technically underpin options development for the disposition of these stocks, for example by immobilization or re-use as fuel, are being carried out by Nexia Solutions on behalf of NDA. Three classes of immobilization matrices have been selected for investigation by means of previous studies and stakeholder dialogue: ceramic or crystalline wasteforms, storage MOx, and vitreous or glass-based wasteforms. This paper describes the preliminary inactive experimental program for the vitrification option, with results from a wide range of glass compositions along with conclusions on their potential use for plutonium immobilization.
Following review, four glass systems were selected for preliminary investigation: borosilicate, lanthanide borosilicate, aluminosilicate and phosphate glasses. A broad survey of glass properties was completed in order to allow meaningful evaluation, e.g. glass formulation, waste loading, chemical durability, thermal properties, and viscosity. The program was divided into two parts, with silicate and phosphate glasses being investigated by Nexia Solutions and the Immobilisation Science Laboratory (ISL) at the University of Sheffield respectively.