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New glassy matrices, able to incorporate new highly concentrated radioactive liquid wastes (HLW), are being studied. Investigations were performed on rare earth-rich glasses, known as very durable matrices. The selected basic glass composition was (wt. %): 51.0 SiO2 – 8.5 B2O3–12.2 Na2O – 4.3 Al2O3 – 4.8 CaO – 3.2 ZrO2 – 16.0 Nd2O3. To determine both the environment around the rare earth in this glass and its evolution according to its concentration (1.3 – 30 wt. % Nd2O3), EXAFS (Extended X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure) spectroscopy at the LIII-edge of neodymium and optical absorption spectroscopy were used. By coupling these two characterisation methods, several hypotheses are proposed about the nature of the rare earth neighbouring in the glass.
Progress on separating the long-lived fission products from the high level radioactive liquid waste (HLW) has led to the development of specific host matrices, notably for the immobilization of cesium. Hollandite (nominally BaAl2Ti6O16), one of the main phases constituting Synroc, receives renewed interest as specific Cs-host wasteform. The radioactive cesium isotopes consist of short-lived Cs and Cs of high activities and Cs with long lifetime, all decaying according to Cs+→Ba2++e- (β) + γ. Therefore, Cs-host forms must be both heat and (β,γ)-radiation resistant. The purpose of this study is to estimate the stability of single phase hollandite under external β and γ radiation, simulating the decay of Cs. A hollandite ceramic of simple composition (Ba1.16Al2.32Ti5.68O16) was essentially irradiated by 1 and 2.5 MeV electrons with different fluences to simulate the β particles emitted by cesium. The generation of point defects was then followed by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR). All these electron irradiations generated defects of the same nature (oxygen centers and Ti3+ ions) but in different proportions varying with electron energy and fluence. The annealing of irradiated samples lead to the disappearance of the latter defects but gave rise to two other types of defects (aggregates of light elements and titanyl ions). It is necessary to heat at relatively high temperature (T=800°C) to recover an EPR spectrum similar to that of the pristine material. The stability of hollandite phase under radioactive cesium irradiation during the waste storage is discussed.
Zirconolite (CaZrTi2O7) based glass-ceramics designed for the specific immobilization of plutonium wastes or minor actinides (Np, Am, Cm) from high level radioactive wastes were investigated. To reach an efficient double containment, actinides must be preferentially located in the crystalline phase, which is homogeneously dispersed in a calcium aluminosilicate residual glass. Several heat treatments (between 950° and 1350°C) of a parent glass belonging to the SiO2-Al2O3-CaO system and containing TiO2 and ZrO2 were performed to prepare glass-ceramics. Trivalent minor actinides were simulated introducing Nd2O3 in the glass composition. Electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thermal analysis have shown that devitrification processes in the bulk and on glass surface are different. They lead to the crystallization of zirconolite in the bulk and to a mixture of titanite (CaTiSiO5) and anorthite (CaAl2Si2O8) near the surface. For heat treatment temperatures greater than or equal to 1250°C, baddeleyite (m-ZrO2) crystals form at the expense of zirconolite in the bulk of glass-ceramics. XRD indicates that the order in zirconolite Ca/Zr planes increases with heating temperature. At the same time, extended defects density decreases.
The investigations on enhanced reprocessing of nuclear spent fuel, and notably on separating the long-lived minor actinides, such as Am and Cm, from the other fission products have led to the development of highly durable specific matrices such as glass-ceramics for their immobilization. This study deals with the characterization of zirconolite (CaZrTi2O7) based glass-ceramics synthesized by devitrification of an aluminosilicate parent glass. Trivalent actinide ions were simulated by neodymium, which is a paramagnetic local probe. Glass-ceramics with Nd2O3 contents ranging from 0 to 10 weight % were prepared by heat treatment of a parent glass at two different growth temperatures: 1050° and 1200°C. X-ray diffraction (XRD), energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) and electron spin resonance (ESR) measurements clearly indicate that Nd3+ ions are partly incorporated in zirconolite crystals formed in the bulk of the glass-ceramic samples. The amount of neodymium in the crystalline phase was estimated using ESR results and was found to decrease with increasing either heat treatment temperature or total Nd2O3 content.
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