Characterisation and Chemical Treatment of Irradiated UK Graphite Waste

  • Lorraine Mcdermott

    Student thesis: Phd


    Once current nuclear reactor operation ceases in the U.K. there will be an estimated 99,000 tonnes of irradiated nuclear graphite waste which may account for up to 30% of any future UK geological ILW disposal facility [1]. In order to make informed decisions of how best to dispose of such large volumes of irradiated graphite (I-graphite) within the UK nuclear programme, it is necessary to understand the nature and migration of isotopes present within the graphite structure. I-graphite has a combination of short and long term isotopes such as 14C, 3H and 36Cl, how these behave prior to and during disposal is of great concern to scientific and regulatory bodies when evaluating present decommissioning options.Various proposed decontamination and immobilisation treatments within the EU Euroatom FP7 CARBOWASTE program have been explored [2, 3]. Experiments have been carried out on UK irradiated British Experimental Pile Zero and Magnox Wylfa graphite in order to remove isotopic content prior to long term storage and to assess the long term leachability of isotopes. Several leaching conditions have been developed to remove 3H and 14C from the irradiated graphite using oxidising and various acidic environments and show mobility of 3H and 14C. Leaching analysis obtained from this research and differences observed under varying leaching conditions will be discussed. Thermal analysis of the samples pre and post leaching has been performed to quantify and validate the 14C and 3H inventory. Finally the research objectives address differences in leachability in the graphite to that of structural and operational variation of the material. Techniques including X-ray Tomography, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Autoradiography and Raman spectroscopy have been examined and show a significant differences in microstructure, isotope distribution and location depending of irradiation history, temperature and graphite source. Ultimately the suitability of the developed chemical treatments will be discussed as whether chemical treatment is a viable option prior to irradiated graphite long term disposal.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorBarry Marsden (Supervisor) & Thomas Marrow (Supervisor)


    • Nuclear Graphite
    • Chemical Treatment
    • Leaching
    • Characterisation

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