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Geology of Ore Deposits

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Confinement matrices for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste

  • N. P. Laverov
  • B. I. Omel’yanenko
  • S. V. Yudintsev
  • S. V. Stefanovsky
Article

Abstract

Mining of uranium for nuclear fuel production inevitably leads to the exhaustion of natural uranium resources and an increase in market price of uranium. As an alternative, it is possible to provide nuclear power plants with reprocessed spent nuclear fuel (SNF), which retains 90% of its energy resource. The main obstacle to this solution is related to the formation in the course of the reprocessing of SNF of a large volume of liquid waste, and the necessity to concentrate, solidify, and dispose of this waste. Radioactive waste is classified into three categories: low-, intermediate-, and high-level (LLW, ILW, and HLW); 95, 4.4, and 0.6% of the total waste are LLW, ILW, and HLW, respectively. Despite its small relative volume, the radioactivity of HLW is approximately equal to the combined radioactivity of LLW + ILW (LILW). The main hazard of HLW is related to its extremely high radioactivity, the occurrence of long-living radionuclides, heat release, and the necessity to confine HLW for an effectively unlimited time period. The problems of handling LILW are caused by the enormous volume of such waste. The available technology for LILW confinement is considered, and conclusion is drawn that its concentration, vitrification, and disposal in shallow-seated repositories is a necessary condition of large-scale reprocessing of SNF derived from VVER-1000 reactors. The significantly reduced volume of the vitrified LILW and its very low dissolution rate at low temperatures makes borosilicate glass an ideal confinement matrix for immobilization of LILW. At the same time, the high corrosion rate of the glass matrix at elevated temperatures casts doubt on its efficient use for immobilization of heat-releasing HLW. The higher cost of LILW vitrification compared to cementation and bitumen impregnation is compensated for by reduced expenditure for construction of additional engineering barriers, as well as by substantial decrease in LLW and ILW volume, localization of shallow-seated repositories in various geological media, and the use of inexpensive borosilicate glass.

Keywords

Nuclear Power Plant Radioactive Waste Liquid Waste Spend Nuclear Fuel Spend Nuclear Fuel 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. P. Laverov
    • 1
  • B. I. Omel’yanenko
    • 1
  • S. V. Yudintsev
    • 1
  • S. V. Stefanovsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy, and GeochemistryRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  2. 2.State Unitary Enterprise Joint Ecological-Technological and Research Center for Management with Radioactive Waste and Environmental Protection (MosNPO Radon)MoscowRussia

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