Description: Plutonium-doped zircon containing about 10 wt% Pu was synthesized in this cooperative project between Russia and the United States conducted at the V. G. Khlopin Radium Institute. The sol-gel method was used for starting precursor preparation to provide complete mixing of initial components and to avoid dust formation inside the glove-box. The sol-gel process also gives interim Pu stabilization in the form of amorphous zirconium hydrosilicate (AZHS), which is a result of gel solidification. AZHS is a solid and relatively durable material that can be easy converted into crystalline zircon by pressureless sintering, thus avoiding significant radioactive contamination of laboratory equipment. A methanol-aqueous solution of tetraethoxysilane Si(OC2H5)4, Pu-nitrate, and zirconil oxynitrate was prepared in final stoichiometry of zircon (Zr,Pu)SiO4 80 wt% + zirconia (Zr,Pu)O2 20 wt%. Gelation occurred after 90 hours at room temperature. AZHS with excess of zirconia 20 wt% was obtained as an interim calcine product and then it was converted into zircon/zirconia ceramic by sintering at 1490 to 1500°C in air for different time periods. The samples obtained were studied by SRD and ESEM methods. It was found that both zircon yield and zircon cell parameters that are correlated with Pu incorporation depend on sintering time.
Date: September 2, 1998
Creator: Anderson, E. B
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