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14C release from irradiated stainless steel

  • Eva de Visser-Týnová (a1), Stephen W Swanton (a2), Stephen J Williams (a3), Marcel P Stijkel (a1), Alison J Walker (a4) and Robert L Otlet (a4)...

Abstract

Radiocarbon (14C or carbon-14, half-life 5730 yr) is a key radionuclide in the assessment of the safety of a geological disposal facility (GDF) for radioactive waste. In particular, the radiological impact of gaseous carbon-14 bearing species has been recognized as a potential issue. Irradiated steels are one of the main sources of carbon-14 in the United Kingdom’s radioactive waste inventory. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the chemical form(s) in which the carbon-14 will be released. The objective of the work was to measure the rate and speciation of carbon-14 release from irradiated 316L(N) stainless steel on leaching under high-pH anoxic conditions, representative of a cement-based near field for low-heat generating wastes. Periodic measurements of carbon-14 releases to both the gas phase and to solution were made in duplicate experiments over a period of up to 417 days. An initial fast release of carbon-14 from the surface of the steel is observed during the first week of leaching, followed by a drop in the rate of release at longer times. Carbon-14 is released primarily to the solution phase with differing fractions released to the gas phase in the two experiments: about 1% of the total release in one and 6% in the other. The predominant dissolved carbon-14 releases are in inorganic form (as 14C-carbonate) but also include organic species. The predominant gas-phase species are hydrocarbons with a smaller fraction of 14CO (which may include some volatile oxygen-containing carbon-species). The experiments are continuing, with final sampling and termination planned after leaching for a total of two years.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: devisser@nrg.eu.

Footnotes

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Selected Papers from the European Commission CAST (CArbon-14 Source Term) Project—A Summary of the Main Results from the Final Symposium

Footnotes

References

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(The RWM, NDA, AMEC, and Serco reports referenced below are available from RWM. Please see https://rwm.nda.gov.uk/publications for further information.)
Baston, GMN, Marshall, TA, Otlet, RL, Walker, AJ, Mather, ID, Williams, SJ. 2012. Rate and speciation of volatile carbon-14 and tritium releases from irradiated graphite. Mineralogical Magazine 76:32933302.
Baston, GMN, Preston, S, Otlet, RL, Walker, AJ, Clacher, A, Kirkham, M, Swift, B. 2014. Carbon 14 release from Oldbury graphite. AMEC Report AMEC/5352/002, issue 3.
Burgers, AR. 1989. NIAGADA – Automatische analyse van gamma spectra. ENR Report 231.
Francis, PE, Mercer, AD. 1985. Corrosion of a mild steel in distilled water and chloride solutions: development of a test method. In: Hayes GS, Baboian R, editors. Laboratory Corrosion Tests and Standards, ASTM STP 866. Philadelphia: American Society for Testing and Materials. p 184196.
De Visser-Týnová, E, Stijkel, MP, Swanton, SW, Otlet, RL, Walker, AJ. 2018. C-14 release and speciation from irradiated stainless steel under alkaline reducing conditions. CAST Report D2.8, issue 2.
Marshall, TA, Baston, GMN. 2011. Longer-term release of carbon-14 from irradiated graphite. Serco Report SERCO/TAS/001190/001, issue 2.
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Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. 2012. Geological Disposal: Carbon-14 Project: Phase 1 Report, NDA/RWMD/092.
Radioactive Waste Management. 2015. Geological Disposal: The 2013 Derived Inventory, NDA Report NDA/RWM/120.
Radioactive Waste Management. 2016. Geological Disposal: Carbon 14 Project Phase 2 Overview Report, NDA/RWM/137.
Swanton, SW, Baston, GMN, Smart, NR. 2015. Rates of steel corrosion and carbon-14 release from irradiated steels – state of the art review. CAST Report D2.1.
Swanton, SW, Swift, BT, Plews, M, Smart, NR. 2016. Carbon-14 Project Phase 2: Irradiated Steel Wastes. AMEC Report AMEC/200047/005, issue 1.
Van Dijken, GJ, Oudshoorn, HL. 2011. NEMO Programmatuur (v2.4.7.). ECN Report 5.1045-GR 11/01.
Wieland, E, Cvetković, B. 2018. Corrosion of irradiated steel in alkaline conditions: First measurements of the carbon-14 speciation. CAST Report D2.19.
Williams, SJ, Scourse, EM. 2015. Carbon-14 source term in geological disposal: the EC Project CAST. J. Nucl. Res. Dev. 10:812. See also http://www.projectcast.eu/ for further information
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Radiocarbon
  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
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