PhD/PDRA – PDRA
Academic Lead – Simon Pimblott
Researcher – Jamie Southworth
University – The University of Manchester
More than 100 tonnes of Pu are stored at Sellafield as PuO2 powder in sealed steel storage cans. Under certain circumstances, gas generation may occur within the can with consequent can pressurisation. This comprises one of the most serious fault scenarios to be considered in the safety cases for PuO2 storage and avoided in practice. 5 routes to gas production having been suggested:
The last 3 mechanisms, all involving the interaction of PuO2 with H2O, are complex and poorly understood, not least because of the interplay between them. An additional challenge to the safe storage and eventual disposition of Pu is that a substantial portion of the inventory is “out-of-specification” because of impurities (specifically chlorine or carbon) or unfavourable powder properties (moisture content, unusually high/low specific surface area). These must be treated to stabilise them for storage in welded cans in new stores.
Thus, within the DISTINCTIVE theme of PuO2 behaviour during extended storage, this programme, a collaboration between the universities of Lancaster and Manchester, and UCL, will seek to:
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