Dissolution of West Valley and Defense Waste Product Facility (DWPF) glasses in J-13 water at 90°C at the candidate Yucca Mountain, Nevada repository was simulated using the EQ316 computer code package. The objectives of the study were to attempt to predict the concentrations of radionuclides and other glass components in solution resulting from glass dissolution, and to identify potential precipitates that sequester glass components.
Modified projected inventories of 10,000 year-old Nest Valley and DNPF SRL-165 frit glasses were used as starting glass compositions. J-13 water was considered to be representative of groundwater at Yucca Mountain. A total of 10 grams of each glass was assumed to dissolve congruently into a kilogram of J-13 water in a closed system. No inhibitions to precipitation, except for crystalline SiO2 polymorphs, were assumed to exist. Radiolysis and materials interactions were not considered.
Simulation results predict that radionuclides and other glass components precipitate predominantly in the form of oxides and hydroxides, together with carbonates, silicates and phosphates. Precipitates appear to be effective in limiting the concentrations of radionuclides and other elements in solution. The general compositional trends in precipitates and solution chemistry are the same in the West Valley and DMPF simulations, except for variations arising from differences in glass chemistry.
Concentrations of elements released from glass increase until the solution reaches saturation with respect to solids that contain these elements. Elemental concentrations are then predicted to remain constant, increase or decrease depending on: 1) whether the reaction between the dominant aqueous species of the element in solution and its precipitate is pH and/or Eh-dependent; 2) whether the species distribution of the element in solution changes significantly in response to changes in pH, Eh, or other factors; and 3) the competition with other phases for elements required to form the precipitate. pH increases from 7.3 to 9.8 and from 7.2 to 10 in the West Valley and DWPF simulations, respectively. Eh decreases abruptly from about 0.5 to 0.3 volts after dissolution of 3.4 and 5.8 grams of glass in the Nest Valley and DMPF simulations, respectively, because of depletion of dissolved oxygen in solution. Complexing of aqueous species has a significant impact on radionuclide concentrations in solution; predicted concentrations of U in solution, for example, are controlled by the presence or absence of P in solution because H2PO4 is an extremely effective complexing agent for U.