Thermal Decomposition of Radiation-Damaged Polystyrene

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The radiation-damaged polystyrene material (''polycube'') used in this study was synthesized by mixing a high-density polystyrene (''Dylene Fines No. 100'') with plutonium and uranium oxides. The polycubes were used on the Hanford Site in the 1960s for criticality studies to determine the hydrogen-to-fissile atom ratios for neutron moderation during processing of spent nuclear fuel. Upon completion of the studies, two methods were developed to reclaim the transuranic (TRU) oxides from the polymer matrix: (1) burning the polycubes in air at 873 K; and (2) heating the polycubes in the absence of oxygen and scrubbing the released monomer and other volatile ... continued below

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Klinger, J Abrefah GS September 26, 2000.

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Description

The radiation-damaged polystyrene material (''polycube'') used in this study was synthesized by mixing a high-density polystyrene (''Dylene Fines No. 100'') with plutonium and uranium oxides. The polycubes were used on the Hanford Site in the 1960s for criticality studies to determine the hydrogen-to-fissile atom ratios for neutron moderation during processing of spent nuclear fuel. Upon completion of the studies, two methods were developed to reclaim the transuranic (TRU) oxides from the polymer matrix: (1) burning the polycubes in air at 873 K; and (2) heating the polycubes in the absence of oxygen and scrubbing the released monomer and other volatile organics using carbon tetrachloride. Neither of these methods was satisfactory in separating the TRU oxides from the polystyrene. Consequently, the remaining polycubes were sent to the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) for storage. Over time, the high dose of alpha and gamma radiation has resulted in a polystyrene matrix that is highly cross-linked and hydrogen deficient and a stabilization process is being developed in support of Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board Recommendation 94-1. Baseline processes involve thermal treatment to pyrolyze the polycubes in a furnace to decompose the polystyrene and separate out the TRU oxides. Thermal decomposition products from this degraded polystyrene matrix were characterized by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to provide information for determining the environmental impact of the process and for optimizing the process parameters. A gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) system coupled to a horizontal tube furnace was used for the characterization studies. The decomposition studies were performed both in air and helium atmospheres at 773 K, the planned processing temperature. The volatile and semi-volatile organic products identified for the radiation-damaged polystyrene were different from those observed for virgin polystyrene. The differences were in the n umber of organic species generated and their concentrations.

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Medium: P; Size: vp.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00763386

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  • Other Information: Supercedes report DE00763386; PBD: 26 Sep 2000

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  • Report No.: PNNL-13313
  • Report No.: 820201000
  • Grant Number: AC06-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/763386 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 763386
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc723778

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  • September 26, 2000

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 29, 2015, 5:31 a.m.

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  • April 6, 2016, 6:36 p.m.

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Klinger, J Abrefah GS. Thermal Decomposition of Radiation-Damaged Polystyrene, report, September 26, 2000; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc723778/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.