Evaluation of Borosilicate Glass as a High-Level Radioactive Waste Form

by M. E. Morgenstein, Geoscience Management Inst, Inc, Boulder City, United States,
D. L. Shettel, Jr., Geoscience Management Inst, Inc, Boulder City, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


The choice of a borosilicate glass as a high-level nuclear waste form is evaluated base on observations of natural and artifical glass hydration and reaction, experimental results of glass leaching and reaction, and calculated releases of radionuclides from the waste form. The process of basaltic glass alteration to palagonite is thought to be a reasonable natural analog to defense high-level waste borosilicate glass alteration. Natural basaltic glass, tektites, and obsidian analogs may be vital in extrapolating short-term laboratory experiments of borosilicate glass into long-term reaction sequences. Tensile fracturing of basaltic and borosilicate glasses in response to hydration stresses can dramatically increase the surface area of the glasses over time. Calculated radionuclide releases for Am, Np, Pu, and U based on experimental data suggest that the entire inventory of these elements may be released from the glass over the regulatory time period. Based upon observations of natural glass alteration and calculated radionuclide releases, the plans for use of borosilicate glass for high-level nuclear waste containment may be less than a compelling choice.

Subject Headings: Glass | Recycling | Radioactive wastes | Waste storage | Chemical wastes | Waste disposal | Waste containment

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