Alpha Radiolysis of Sorbed Water on Uranium Oxides and Uranium Oxyfluorides

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The radiolysis of sorbed water and other impurities contained in actinide oxides has been the focus of a number of studies related to the establishment of criteria for the safe storage and transport of these materials. Gamma radiolysis studies have previously been performed on uranium oxides and oxyfluorides (UO{sub 3}, U{sub 3}O{sub 8}, and UO{sub 2}F{sub 2}) to evaluate the long-term storage characteristics of {sup 233}U. This report describes a similar study for alpha radiolysis. Uranium oxides and oxyfluorides (with {sup 238}U as the surrogate for {sup 233}U) were subjected to relatively high alpha radiation doses (235 to 634 MGy) ... continued below

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Icenhour, A.S. September 10, 2003.

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The radiolysis of sorbed water and other impurities contained in actinide oxides has been the focus of a number of studies related to the establishment of criteria for the safe storage and transport of these materials. Gamma radiolysis studies have previously been performed on uranium oxides and oxyfluorides (UO{sub 3}, U{sub 3}O{sub 8}, and UO{sub 2}F{sub 2}) to evaluate the long-term storage characteristics of {sup 233}U. This report describes a similar study for alpha radiolysis. Uranium oxides and oxyfluorides (with {sup 238}U as the surrogate for {sup 233}U) were subjected to relatively high alpha radiation doses (235 to 634 MGy) by doping with {sup 244}Cm. The typical irradiation time for these samples was about 1.5 years, which would be equivalent to more than 50 years irradiation by a {sup 233}U sample. Both dry and wet (up to 10 wt % water) samples were examined in an effort to identify the gas pressure and composition changes that occurred as a result of radiolysis. This study shows that several competing reactions occur during radiolysis, with the net effect that only very low pressures of hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide are generated from the water, nitrate, and carbon impurities, respectively, associated with the oxides. In the absence of nitrate impurities, no pressures greater than 1000 torr are generated. Usually, however, the oxygen in the air atmosphere over the oxides is consumed with the corresponding oxidation of the uranium oxide. In the presence of up to 10 wt % water, the oxides first show a small pressure rise followed by a net decrease due to the oxygen consumption and the attainment of a steady-state pressure where the rate of generation of gaseous components is balanced by their recombination and/or consumption in the oxide phase. These results clearly demonstrate that alpha radiolysis of either wet or dry {sup 233}U oxides will not produce deleterious pressures or gaseous components that could compromise the long-term storage of these materials.

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  • Report No.: ORNL/TM-2003/172
  • Grant Number: DE-AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/885590 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 885590
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc892524

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  • September 10, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 4:33 p.m.

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Icenhour, A.S. Alpha Radiolysis of Sorbed Water on Uranium Oxides and Uranium Oxyfluorides, report, September 10, 2003; [Tennessee]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc892524/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.