Trying to estimate the long-term durability of cemented wasteforms is a difficult task as the cement matrix is a reactive medium and interactions can occur with the encapsulated waste as well as with the environment. There are few studies of samples that have been stored under controlled conditions for more than 10-15 years. Wasteforms are now being expected to last hundreds of years, much of that likely to be in some form of storage where sample integrity is important. There is also the concern that results from any long-term samples may only be indicative as both formulations and materials change with time.
This paper discusses changes in physical properties that occur in composite cements when some of the short-term accelerated procedures employed in construction testing are applied to encapsulating matrices. Changes after increased temperature of curing, wetting/drying and accelerated carbonation are discussed.
Many of the encapsulating formulations currently used are composite cements where large replacement levels of OPC with supplementary cementing materials (SCMs) such as PFA or BFS are made, primarily to reduce heat output. Accelerating the exposure conditions, either by increasing temperature or through wetting/drying has the effect of changing the hydration pattern of the composite cement by generating more hydration in the SCMs than would normally occur. The large amount of porosity that occurs because of limited hydration allows intrusion of gases and ready movement of water, so the samples subjected to accelerated testing do not appear as durable as expected if stored at ambient.