Preparation and characterization of {sup 238}Pu-ceramics for radiation damage experiments

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As a result of treaty agreements between Russia and the US, portions of their respective plutonium and nuclear weapons stockpiles have been declared excess. In support of the US Department of Energy's 1998 decision to pursue immobilization of a portion of the remaining Pu in a titanate-based ceramic, the authors prepared nearly 200 radiation-damage test specimens of five Pu- and {sup 238}Pu-ceramics containing 10 mass% Pu to determine the effects of irradiation from the contained Pu and U on the ceramic. The five Pu-ceramics were (1) phase-pure pyrochlore [ideally, Ca(U, Pu)Ti{sub 2}O{sub 7}], (2) pyrochlore-rich baseline, (3) pyrochlore-rich baseline with ... continued below

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50 p.

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Strachan, DM; Scheele, RD; Buchmiller, WC; Vienna, JD; Sell, RL & Elovich, RJ June 15, 2000.

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Description

As a result of treaty agreements between Russia and the US, portions of their respective plutonium and nuclear weapons stockpiles have been declared excess. In support of the US Department of Energy's 1998 decision to pursue immobilization of a portion of the remaining Pu in a titanate-based ceramic, the authors prepared nearly 200 radiation-damage test specimens of five Pu- and {sup 238}Pu-ceramics containing 10 mass% Pu to determine the effects of irradiation from the contained Pu and U on the ceramic. The five Pu-ceramics were (1) phase-pure pyrochlore [ideally, Ca(U, Pu)Ti{sub 2}O{sub 7}], (2) pyrochlore-rich baseline, (3) pyrochlore-rich baseline with impurities, (4) phase-pure zirconolite [ideally Ca(U, Pu)Ti{sub 2}O{sub 7}], and (5) a zirconolite-rich baseline. These ceramics were prepared with either normal weapons-grade Pu, which is predominantly {sup 239}Pu, or {sup 238}Pu. The {sup 238}Pu accelerates the radiation damage relative to the {sup 239}Pu because of its much higher specific activity. The authors were unsuccessful in preparing phase-pure (Pu, U) brannerite, which is the third crystalline phase present in the baseline immobilization form. Since these materials will contain {approximately}10 mass% Pu and about 20 mass% U, radiation damage to the crystalline structure of these materials will occur overtime. As the material becomes damaged from the decay of the Pu and U, it is possible for the material to swell as both the alpha particles and recoiling atoms rupture chemical bonds within the solid. As the material changes density, cracking, perhaps in the form of microcracks, may occur. If cracking occurs in ceramic that has been placed in a repository, the calculated rate of radionuclide release if the can has corroded would increase proportionately to the increase in surface area. To investigate the effects of radiation damage on the five ceramics prepared, the authors are storing the specimens at 20, 125, and 250 C until the {sup 238}Pu specimens become metamict and the damage saturates. They will characterize and test these specimens every 6 months by (1) monitoring the dimensions, (2) monitoring the geometric and pycnometric densities, (3) monitoring the appearance, (4) determining the normalized amount leached during a 3-day, static, 90 C leach test in high purity water, and (5) monitoring the crystal structure with x-ray diffraction crystallography (XRD). In this paper, the authors document the preparation and initial characterization of the materials that were made in this study. The initial XRD characterizations indicate that the phase assemblages appear to be correct with the exception of the {sup 238}Pu-zirconolite baseline material. They made this latter material using too much Pu, so this material contains unreacted PuO{sub 2}. The characterization of the physical properties of these materials found that the densities for all but three materials appear to be > 94% of theoretical, and only a few of the specimens have significant cracking. Those with cracking were the {sup 239}Pu-zirconolite specimens, which were sintered with a heat-up rate of 5 C/min. They sintered the {sup 238}Pu-zirconolite specimens with a heat-up rate of 2.5 C/min and obtained specimens with only minor surface cracking. Elemental releases during the 3-day MCC leach tests show that the normalized elemental releases depend on (1) whether the Pu is {sup 239}Pu or {sup 238}Pu, (2) the material type, and (3) the identity of the constituent. The effect of the Pu isotope in the ceramic is most dramatic for Pu release, with nominally 50 to 100 times more Pu activity released from the {sup 238}Pu specimens. This is unlikely to be an early indicator of radiation damage, because of the short time between specimen preparation and testing. In contrast greater amounts of Mo are released from the {sup 239}Pu specimens. Of the contained constituents, Ca Al, Pu, and U are the species found at relatively higher levels in the leachates.

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50 p.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00756592

Medium: P; Size: 50 pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 15 Jun 2000

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  • Report No.: PNNL-13251
  • Report No.: GA0101020
  • Grant Number: AC06-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/756592 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 756592
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc711015

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  • June 15, 2000

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 12, 2015, 6:31 a.m.

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  • April 13, 2017, 12:09 p.m.

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Strachan, DM; Scheele, RD; Buchmiller, WC; Vienna, JD; Sell, RL & Elovich, RJ. Preparation and characterization of {sup 238}Pu-ceramics for radiation damage experiments, report, June 15, 2000; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc711015/: accessed September 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.