Tuesday 10 October 2017

World’s Longest Running Synchrotron Light Experiment Reveals Long Term Behaviour Of Nuclear Waste Materials

Nuclear waste experiment
Longest ongoing synchrotron light experiment in the World unveils behaviour of nuclear waste materials that are long term

University of Sheffield researchers, in collaboration with the Diamond Light Source, are the forerunners in studying and understanding gradual transformations in nuclear waste materials. Their experiment just reached a major milestone of 1000 days which makes it the world’s longest running synchrotron light experiment.

Led by Dr Claire Corkhill from the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the research has utilised the world’s best facilities at the Diamond Light Source to study the long-term behaviour of cement materials used in nuclear waste disposal through the synchrotron experiment.

Dr Corkhill explained that these cements are used to securely lock away the radioactive elements present in nuclear waste for a time period of more than about 10,000 years, hence it is vital that the properties of these materials are accurately predicted in the future. She also added that the exclusive provision at Diamond has enabled them to follow this reaction in situ, for a period of 1000 days and the data received from this study is already helping them recognize exact phases that will securely and safely lock away radioactive elements in a time span of 1000 years’ which is something they would not have been able to determine otherwise.

Dr Corkhill also stated that she has definite plans to return to Diamond Light Source to investigate and observe the reaction of these particular phases with uranium, plutonium and technetium on a single beamline of the X-ray absorption spectroscopy.

The Director of the Immobilisation Science Laboratory and co-investigator of this particular research, Professor Neil Hyatt, said that they all are very enthusiastic to be chosen to partake in this synchrotron experiment as the first ever consumers, in this world’s best facility and capability and are grateful to the people at the Diamond Light Source, Dr Chiu Tang, Dr Sarah Day and Dr Claire Murray from I11 in particular, for all the support they provided in helping all their experiments seeing the light of day and for being the perfect curators of their samples for a period of 1000 days. He added that they were very pleased that this 1000 day milestone established firmly their long-term association between the University of Sheffield and the scientists present at the Diamond Light Source.

Dr Corkhill is, at present, keeping an eye on the alterations in eight nuclear waste cement materials by determining the high resolution diffraction patterns at Diamond Light Source on the I11-1 beamline. Diamond Light Source happens to be UK’s national synchrotron science facility which was financed as a joint venture by the UK Government with the help of the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust. Dr Corkhill’s results and findings are currently being utilised to provide support to the ongoing safety case development meant for the UK Government policy to get rid of nuclear waste in a disposal facility that is geologically deep.
Scientists at Diamond plan to construct five more beamlines for these synchrotron experiments by 2020. But for now, there are no plans to put a stop to this experiment and it will in all probability continue to break records until the materials don’t change anymore or the space is required by another space.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.