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Dissolution of fluorite type surfaces as analogues of spent nuclear fuel: Production of suitable analogues and study the effect of surface orientation on dissolution
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geological Sciences. (Geochemistry)
2011 (English)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is accepted worldwide that the best final solution for spent nuclear fuel is to bury it in deep geological repositories. Despite the physical and chemical barriers that are supposed to isolate the nuclear waste for at least 100.000 years, some uncertainty factors may cause underground water to get in contact with the nuclear waste. Due to radioactivity and oxidation under air, dissolution experiments using UO2 pellets are difficult and frequently lead to incoherent results. Therefore, to enable a detailed study of the influence of microstructure and surface properties on the stability of spent nuclear fuel over time, it is necessary to produce analogues that closely resemble nuclear fuel in terms of crystallography and microstructure. At the same time, in-depth understanding of dissolution phenomena is crucial to geological processes such as dissolution precipitation creep and solvent mediated phase transformations.

My thesis is based in two manuscripts. Paper I reports the microstructures obtained after sintering CaF2 powders at temperatures up to 1240°C. Pellets with microstructure, density and pore structure similar to that of UO2 spent nuclear fuel pellets were obtained in the temperature range between 900°C and 1000°C. Paper II reports how differences of surface chemistry and crystal symmetry, characteristics of each surface orientation, affect the topography of CaF2 pellets described in paper I during dissolution.

I propose that every orientation of the fluorite structure can be decomposed in the three reference surfaces {100}, {110} and {111}. The {111} is the most stable surface with a dissolution rate of the top surface of 1,13x10-9 mol.m-2.s-1, and {112} the less stable surface with a dissolution rate 34 times faster that {111}. Surfaces that expose both Ca and F atoms in the same plan dissolve faster, possibly because the calcium is more susceptible to be solvated.

The faster dissolving surfaces are replaced by the more stable {111} and {100} surfaces which causes the development of roughness on the top surface and stabilizes the surface on high energy sites; i.e. pores or grain boundaries. The main consequences of these observations are i) the increase of the total surface area; ii) the decrease of the overall surface energy.

I present a dissolution model for surfaces of crystal with different surface energies. The main conclusions are: a) dissolution rates calculated from surface area are over estimated to the real dissolution rate; b) dissolution rates are faster at the beginning of dissolution and tend to diminish with time until a minimum value is reached.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University , 2011. , 22 p.
Keyword [en]
fluorite, spent nuclear fuel, crystal structure, CeO2, CaF2, crystal orientation, topography, confocal profilometry
National Category
Geology
Research subject
Geology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-60289OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-60289DiVA: diva2:434196
Presentation
2011-09-13, Stockholm University, 16:11 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme
Available from: 2011-08-29 Created: 2011-08-12 Last updated: 2012-05-24Bibliographically approved

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