Subsequent decommissioning of these nuclear facilities will generate significantly larger volumes of liquid wastes from the decontamination of plant/equipment. Although decontamination liquors are largely restricted to nitric acid, citric acid and sodium hydroxide as these materials are compatible with the materials of construction, other proprietary chemicals are used when necessary. This variety of liquids results in various treatment techniques some of which render these treated liquid unrecyclable adding to the waste management impact. Solid materials from these treated liquids require further treatment before being considered for disposal.
Consistent, routine, low cost preparation of nano-materials/nano-structured materials has eluded scientists to date and therefore their true potential has not been realised. Our programme will develop nano-structured hybrid materials that have high affinities for various fission products and minor actinides that can function in acid and alkaline solutions and require minimal down-stream treatment prior to disposal.
There are 3 key features of this ambitious programme:
It is envisaged that these nano materials could be used in-situ thus preventing a build up of radioactivity in the liquid.
The net result is an integrated clean up process that removes contamination in situ but also and equally important produces an end-product that can be accommodated into existing encapsulation techniques such as cementation or vitrification for final disposal.
Cost effective, efficient and safe management of wastes are primary requirements for the nuclear industry per se. These wastes whether solid, liquid or gaseous arise from every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle and are treated to ensure they comply with stringent regulatory standards before final disposal into the environment.
The industry is keen to adopt any process/technology that can reduce costs, environmental impact whist maintaining safety standards.