Results of Components on Nuclear Waste Vitrification Host Glass


In a latest research printed within the Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids, a bunch of researchers explored the nanostructure of borosilicate glass as a substrate for high-level nuclear liquid waste underneath the affect of the components Na2O and CaO/ZnO.

Research: Nanoscopic construction of borosilicate glass with components for nuclear waste vitrification. Picture Credit score: fewerton/

These components are used to scale back the melting temperature of the glass, forestall morphological dissociation, and enhance biochemical stability.

Borosilicate Glass for Nuclear Waste Vitrification

It’s essential to get rid of uranium and plutonium parts from nuclear gas refining by means of a liquid extraction approach often known as the PUREX technique. This method generates a substantial quantity of high-level nuclear liquid waste (HLLW) that incorporates radioactive parts.

After burying, HLLW is commonly preserved through vitrification, which entails utilizing borosilicate glass to stop its motion into the surroundings.

Borosilicate glass has a decrease melting temperature and is extra proof against moisture and chemical compounds than silicate glass, permitting it to last more in hardened waste glass storage websites. The structural and biochemical integrity of reprocessed radioactive waste is crucial for assuring long-term storage in a safe surroundings.

Components Affecting Nuclear Waste Vitrification Course of

A whole lot of transition metals type oxides in borosilicate glass in most nuclear reactions. Steel oxides can manifest and section detach, inflicting heterogeneities within the crystal that may trigger it to interrupt. Transition metals, on the whole, are sparsely solvable in glass.

Throughout untreated vitrification, they’re susceptible to type crystal oxides that construct on the base of the melter, rising the electrical conductance and fluidity of the glass. This motion disrupts the vitrification course of, and the imperfection generated by precipitation impacts the glass’s mechanical qualities.

Equally, insoluble accumulations of alkali molybdate nanocrystals, often known as the yellow section, type within the glass. As a result of these chemical compounds are soluble in water, they might pose a hazard to the surroundings. Metallic ions may function as mesh networks, breaking chemical connections within the glass construction and changing into a part of it by altering the preliminary metallic oxides, or as cost converters at charge-defective spots within the glass.

Nanostructure Research of Borosilicate Glass

Many investigations into the sub-nanometer structure of borosilicate glass each with and with out metallic oxides as reinforcements have been performed earlier than.

For instance, X-ray diffraction indicated the host glass’ structure and whether or not the metallic oxides have been built-in into the glass construction. Beneath particular circumstances, the Bragg ridges in XRD detected the event of crystallized oxides attributable to oxidation reactions within the glass. The connection and chemistry of alkaline and alkaline earth metals in glass have been studied utilizing X-ray absorption high quality construction (XAFS). It’s because every component within the spent nuclear gas vitrification course of has a novel absorption coefficient.

Regardless that structural investigations using the methods outlined above have had a whole lot of success, they’re restricted to size scales of lower than 1 nm.

Consequently, extra analysis is required to find out the properties and microarchitectures of the glass on the nano- and meso-dimensions to totally perceive their potential for spent nuclear gas vitrification. It’s because gaining a greater information of how these compounds have an effect on the borosilicate nanoparticle construction will assist develop radioactive materials vitrification.

On this research, the researchers used small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) together with neutron radiography and X-ray crystallography to discover the nanoparticle composition of borosilicate glass as a substrate for nuclear waste cryopreservation within the neighborhood of normal catalysts, Na2O and CaO/ZnO with and with out Li2O.

Analysis Findings and Conclusion

The CaO/ZnO additions resulted in heterogeneities of many nanometers in dimension. Nonetheless, these traits have been decreased by the coaddition of Li2O with CaO/ZnO.

These nanoparticle buildings affected borosilicate glass’ perform as HLLW hosts by affecting parameters such because the variety of metallic oxides the glass can take up, adsorption habits, and structural power. Sure metallic oxides didn’t scatter uniformly within the nano-inhomogeneous glass.

The composition of the glass’ nanoparticle construction needs to be taken into consideration whereas figuring out the high-performance HLLW host glass and the particle association of the glass body. These structural findings are anticipated to make a considerable contribution to the event of vitrification procedures for the administration of HLLW.

Proceed studying: Researching Carbon Atoms to Support the Discovery of New-Era Ceramics.


Motokawa, R. et al. (2021). Nanoscopic construction of borosilicate glass with components for nuclear waste vitrification. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids. Obtainable at:

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