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Current Research Projects

Understanding the fundamental science governing the development and performance of nuclear waste glasses
The goal of this Integrated Research Program is to supply actionable information to DOE to reduce costs and risks associated with nuclear waste vitrification. Primary information will be compositional dependence and glass chemistry effects on undesirable processing outcomes such as low waste loading, crystal formation, technetium volatility, and salt formation. (Partners:  Rutgers, University of North Texas, PNNL; Funding DOE-NE with DOE-EM)
Related Publications

Simulated Used Nuclear Fuel Dissolution as a Function of Fuel Chemistry and Near Field Conditions
This project will develop a fundamental and transformative understanding of the various effects of simulated used nuclear fuel (UNF) microstructure on its dissolution in geologic repository conditions, through an integrated research program. This understanding will underpin the maturation of models for UNF evolution and interaction under different potential repository conditions, enabling reliable prediction of degradation and adjustment of repository conditions to achieve desired long-term performance, and providing increased confidence in predicting behavior for up to one million years. (Partners: PNNL, University of Sheffield; Funding DOE-NEUP)
Related Publications

Synthesis of UO2 pellets

Studies and Analyses of Compositional Dependence of Glass Corrosion Associated with Nepheline Formation
We will systematically explore nepheline crystallization and chemical durability with simplified glass systems, starting with various Na2O-SiO2-A
l2O3 compositions, then building complexity  to add several other important components, such as CaO, B2O3, Li2O, and Fe2O3.  By this tiered approach we will build on the understanding of the effects of the different components on the susceptibility to nepheline formation in complex nuclear waste glasses for immobilization of Hanford wastes. Data-driven, machine-learning models will be created to predict the formation of nepheline as a function of glass composition and thermal treatment. The interpretation of these models will provide quantitative insight to the forces driving nepheline crystallization in high-level waste glasses. (Partners:  PNNL, Rutgers; Funding: DOE-ORP)
Related Publications

Representation of nepheline structure viewed down [001]

Formation and Alteration of Old Glass
This project focuses on studying and analyzing natural and anthropomorphic analogue glasses of great age for the purposes of testing glass alteration models needed to predict long term performance of nuclear waste glass after disposal.  One focus is on glasses from the Swedish hillfort Broborg, and includes rock melting experiments, characterization, and glass synthesis, with the goals of providing sufficient understanding of the ancient process that suitable synthetic glasses can be made in the laboratory for alteration testing.  Additionally, we are exploring natural geologic glass and other archaeological glasses to see if any other readily available and relevant materials might be available and appropriate for study.  (Partners:  PNNL, Sheffield, Tekedo, Smithsonian; Funding: DOE-ORP)

Related Publications

Technetium Local Structure and Chemistry in Low Activity Waste Glass
We will obtain first-of-a-kind chemical structure determination of poorly understood, environmentally relevant technetium compounds.  Through the investigation of model alkali oxide 99Tc compounds and 99Tc-containing oxide glasses we intend to provide key data on glass structure around 99Tc , the stability of the waste glass, and its corrosion in water. There are several known polymorphs of Tc-oxide and the transformation between these phases will be examined. Search algorithms will be used to identify additional Tc-oxide phases. This work provides much needed data for the improvement of performance assessment models of Tc release in waste repositories.  (Partners:  PNNL, EMSL, LBNL, ORNL; Funding: DOE-ORP)
Related Publications

Concentrated pertechnic acid