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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number NE/C004035/1
Title Minerals for encapsulation of high-level nuclear waste: simulating damage and durability
Status Completed
Energy Categories Nuclear Fission and Fusion(Nuclear Fission, Other nuclear fission) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS (Metallurgy and Materials) 25%;
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences) 75%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Not Cross-cutting 100%
Principal Investigator Prof S (Simon ) Redfern
No email address given
Earth Sciences
University of Cambridge
Award Type R&D
Funding Source NERC
Start Date 01 February 2006
End Date 31 January 2009
Duration 36 months
Total Grant Value £199,312
Industrial Sectors Power
Region East of England
Programme Standard
Investigators Principal Investigator Prof S (Simon ) Redfern , Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge (99.997%)
  Other Investigator Prof E (Emilo ) Artacho , Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge (0.001%)
Prof M T (Martin ) Dove , Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge (0.001%)
Professor RW Grimes , Materials, Imperial College London (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives 1) Using computation methods, determine the atomic-scale phenomena responsible for the ease of amorphisation and the rate controlling processes during damage recovery, including their dependence on crystal chemical variability. 2) Using molecular dynamics simulations, determine the nature of radiation self-damage in pyrochlore structure compounds, including possible phase separation, and link this to experimental observations from spectroscopic studies. 3) Determine the dynamics of ion migration in damaged and crystalline pyrochlore, to evaluate the influence of damage cascades on chemical transport in radiation damaged materials. 4) Evaluate the interaction of damaged region with surface to determine the possible stabilisation or otherwise of damaged regions by near-surface relaxatio n in thin films. 5) Link the computation results with experimental developments to evaluate the significant phenomena responsible for ensuring geochemical immobility of actinides within pyrochlore oxides.
Abstract Radioactive waste disposal is the Achilles heel of nuclear power generation. The Eurobarometer poll of November 2001 revealed a majority of EU citizens would accept nuclear power if an assuredly safe and secure method of waste disposal was available. Yet concerns over the long-term aqueous durability of borosilicate glasses as hosts for high-level waste (HLW) have been noted since the 1970's.Learning from Nature, we have been using the fundamental insights provided by natural minerals to steer the search for synthetic materials that could far outperform the current glass technologies, especially in terms of how well they retain uranium and plutonium within their atomic scale structure when they are immersed in the potential groundwaters of a geological waste store. Our preliminary workhas combined experimental work on the principles of crystalline architecture with computer simulations. These highlight the characteristics of damage to the surrounding crystal that occurs during radioactive decay, and show that the damaged regions form high-density shells around themselves. We propose to capitalise on our recent advances in understanding radiation damage accumulation in themineral zircon, using accurate computer simulations, to test the hypothesis that zirconium and titanium oxides (with the pyrochlore structure) may beas impervious and robust in retaining radionuclides over geological time frames.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 05/09/08