Water Sorption and Gamma Radiolysis Studies for Uranium Oxides

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During the development of a standard for the safe, long-term storage of {sup 233}U-containing materials, several areas were identified that needed additional experimental studies. These studies were related to the perceived potential for the radiolytic generation of large pressures or explosive concentrations of gases in storage containers. This report documents the results of studies on the sorption of water by various uranium oxides and on the gamma radiolysis of uranium oxides containing various amounts of sorbed moisture. In all of the experiments, {sup 238}U was used as a surrogate for the {sup 233}U. For the water sorption experiments, uranium oxide ... continued below

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86 pages

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Icenhour, A.S. February 27, 2002.

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Description

During the development of a standard for the safe, long-term storage of {sup 233}U-containing materials, several areas were identified that needed additional experimental studies. These studies were related to the perceived potential for the radiolytic generation of large pressures or explosive concentrations of gases in storage containers. This report documents the results of studies on the sorption of water by various uranium oxides and on the gamma radiolysis of uranium oxides containing various amounts of sorbed moisture. In all of the experiments, {sup 238}U was used as a surrogate for the {sup 233}U. For the water sorption experiments, uranium oxide samples were prepared and exposed to known levels of humidity to establish the water uptake rate. Subsequently, the amount of water removed was studied by heating samples in a oven at fixed temperatures and by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA)/differential thermal analysis (DTA). It was demonstrated that heating at 650 C adequately removes all moisture from the samples. Uranium-238 oxides were irradiated in a {sup 60}Co source and in the high-gamma-radiation fields provided by spent nuclear fuel elements of the High Flux Isotope Reactor. For hydrated samples of UO{sub 3}, H{sub 2} was the primary gas produced; but the total gas pressure increase reached steady value of about 10 psi. This production appears to be a function of the dose and the amount of water present. Oxygen in the hydrated UO{sub 3} sample atmosphere was typically depleted, and no significant pressure rise was observed. Heat treatment of the UO{sub 3} {center_dot} xH{sub 2}O at 650 C would result in conversion to U{sub 3}O{sub 8} and eliminate the H{sub 2} production. For all of the U{sub 3}O{sub 8} samples loaded in air and irradiated with gamma radiation, a pressure decrease was seen and little, if any, H{sub 2} was produced--even for samples with up to 9 wt % moisture content. Hence, these results demonstrated that the efforts to remove trace moisture from U{sub 3}O{sub 8} are not necessary to avoid pressurization of stored uranium oxides caused by gamma-induced radiolysis. In fact, this system can tolerate several percent of sorbed moisture--most of which can be easily removed by heating to only 150 C. To complete the picture of the radiolytic response of uranium oxides that have sorbed moisture, alpha radiolysis experiments have been initiated.

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86 pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 27 Feb 2002

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2001/59
  • Grant Number: AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/814266 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 814266
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc738835

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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Creation Date

  • February 27, 2002

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • March 31, 2016, 1:16 p.m.

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Icenhour, A.S. Water Sorption and Gamma Radiolysis Studies for Uranium Oxides, report, February 27, 2002; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc738835/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.