The major concern in the deep geological disposal of spent nuclear fuels include sulfide-induced corrosion and stress corrosion cracking of copper canisters. Sulfur diffusion into copper canisters may induce copper embrittlement by causing Cu2S particle formation along grain boundaries; these sulfide particles can act as crack initiation sites and eventually cause embrittlement. To prevent the formation of Cu2S along grain boundaries and sulfur-induced copper embrittlement, copper alloys are designed in this study. Alloying elements that can act as chemical anchors to suppress sulfur diffusion and the formation of Cu2S along grain boundaries are investigated based on the understanding of the microscopic mechanism of sulfur diffusion and Cu2S precipitation along grain boundaries. Copper alloy ingots are experimentally manufactured to validate the alloying elements. Microstructural analysis using scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy demonstrates that Cu2S particles are not formed at grain boundaries but randomly distributed within grains in all the vacuum arc-melted Cu alloys (Cu-Si, Cu-Ag, and Cu-Zr). Further studies will be conducted to evaluate the mechanical and corrosion properties of the developed Cu alloys.
Spin-off pyroprocessing technology and inert anode materials to replace the conventional carbon-based smelting process for critical materials were introduced. Efforts to select inert anode materials through numerical analysis and selected experimental results were devised for the high-throughput reduction of oxide feedstocks. The electrochemical properties of the inert anode material were evaluated, and stable electrolysis behavior and CaCu generation were observed during molten salt recycling. Thereafter, CuTi was prepared by reacting rutile (TiO2) with CaCu in a Ti crucible. The formation of CuTi was confirmed when the concentration of CaO in the molten salt was controlled at 7.5mol%. A laboratory-scale electrorefining study was conducted using CuTi(Zr, Hf) alloys as the anodes, with a Ti electrodeposit conforming to the ASTM B299 standard recovered using a pilot-scale electrorefining device.
Coupled thermo-hydraulic-mechanical (THM) processes are essential for the long-term performance of deep geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste. In this study, a numerical sensitivity analysis was performed to analyze the effect of rock properties on THM responses after the execution of the heater test at the Kamaishi mine in Japan. The TOUGHFLAC simulator was applied for the numerical simulation assuming a continuum model for coupled THM analysis. The rock properties included in the sensitivity study were the Young’s modulus, permeability, thermal conductivity, and thermal expansion coefficients of crystalline rock, rock salt, and clay. The responses, i.e., temperature, water content, displacement, and stress, were measured at monitoring points in the buffer and near-field rock mass during the simulations. The thermal conductivity had an overarching impact on THM responses. The influence of Young’s modulus was evident in the mechanical behavior, whereas that of permeability was noticed through the change in the temperature and water content. The difference in the THM responses of the three rock type models implies the importance of the appropriate characterization of rock mass properties with regard to the performance assessment of the deep geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
Sulfide concentrations critically affect worker safety and the integrities of underground facilities, such as deep geological repositories for spent nuclear fuel. Sulfide is highly sensitive to oxygen, which can oxidize sulfide to sulfate. This can hinder precise measurement of the sulfide concentration. Hence, a literature review was conducted, which revealed that two methods are commonly used: the methylene blue and sulfide ion-selective electrode (ISE) methods. Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) was used for comparison with the two methods. The sulfide ISE method was found to be superior as it yielded results with a higher degree of accuracy and involved fewer procedures for quantification of the sulfide concentration in solution. ICP-OES results can be distorted significantly when sulfide is present in solution owing to the formation of H2S gas in the ICP-OES nebulizer. Therefore, the ICP-OES must be used with caution when quantifying underground water to prevent any distortion in the measured results. The results also suggest important measures to avoid problems when using ICP-OES for site selection. Furthermore, the sulfide ISE method is useful in determining sulfide concentrations in the field to predict the lifetime of disposal canisters of spent nuclear fuel in deep geological repositories and other industries.
There is a gap in our understanding of the behavior of fused and molten fuel salts containing unavoidable contamination, such as those due to fabrication, handling, or storage. Therefore, this work used calorimetry to investigate the change in liquidus temperature of PuCl3, having an unknown purity and that had been in storage for several decades. Further research was performed by additions of NaCl, making several compositions within the binary system, and summarizing the resulting changes, if any, to the phase diagram. The melting temperature of the PuCl3 was determined to be 746.5°C, approximately 20°C lower than literature reported values, most likely due to an excess of Pu metal in the PuCl3 either due to the presence of metallic plutonium remaining from incomplete chlorination or due to the solubility of Pu in PuCl3. From the melting temperature, it was determined that the PuCl3 contained between 5.9 to 6.2mol% Pu metal. Analysis of the NaCl-PuCl3 samples showed that using the Pu rich PuCl3 resulted in significant changes to the NaCl-PuCl3 phase diagram. Most notably an unreported phase transition occurring at approximately 406°C and a new eutectic composition of 52.7mol% NaCl–38.7mol% PuCl3–2.5mol% Pu which melted at 449.3°C. Additionally, an increase in the liquidus temperatures was seen for NaCl rich compositions while lower liquidus temperatures were seen for PuCl3 rich compositions. It can therefore be concluded that changes will occur in the NaCl-PuCl3 binary system when using PuCl3 with excess Pu metal. However, melting temperature analysis can provide valuable insight into the composition of the PuCl3 and therefore the NaCl-PuCl3 system.
Several countries have been operating radioactive waste disposal (RWD) programs to construct their own repositories and have used natural analogues (NA) studies directly or indirectly to ensure the reliability of the long-term safety of deep geological disposal (DGD) systems. A DGD system in Korea has been under development, and for this purpose a generic NA study is necessary. The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has just launched the first national NA R&D program in Korea to identify the role of NA studies and to support the safety case in the RWD program. In this article, we review some cases of NA studies carried out in advanced countries considering crystalline rocks as candidate host rocks for high-level radioactive waste disposal. We examine the differences among these case studies and their roles in reflecting each country’s disposal repository design. The legal basis and roadmap for NA studies in each country are also described. However because the results of this analysis depend upon different environmental conditions, they can be only used as important data for establishing various research strategies to strengthen the NA study environment for domestic disposal system research in Korea.
During the decades after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) accident, ambient dose rates have markedly decreased when compared to those at the early state of the accident. Government projects have been continuously conducted by surveying the ambient dose rate and radiocesium distributions. Airborne surveys using crewed helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are the best methods for obtaining an overall picture of the distribution. However, ground-based surveys are required for accurate measurements near the population. The differences between these methods include the knowledge of the post depositional behavior of radionuclides in land use. The survey results form the basis for policy decisions such as lifting evacuation zones, decontamination, and other countermeasures. These surveys contain crucial findings regarding post-accident responses. This paper reviews the survey methods of government projects and current situation around the FDNPS. The visualization methods and databases of ambient dose rates are also reviewed to provide information to the population.
The Fukushima accident in 2011 revealed some major flaws in traditional nuclear fuel materials under accidental conditions. Thus, the focus of research has shifted toward “accident tolerant fuel” (ATF). The aim of this approach is to develop fuel material solutions that lead to improved reactor safety. The application of protective coatings on the surface of nuclear fuel cladding has been proposed as a near-term solution within the ATF framework. Many coating materials are being developed and evaluated. In this article, an overview of different zirconium-based alloys currently in use in the nuclear industry is provided, and their performances in normal and accidental conditions are discussed. Coating materials proposed by different institutions and organizations, their performances under different conditions simulating nuclear reactor environments are reviewed. The strengths and weaknesses of these coatings are highlighted, and the challenges addressed by different studies are summarized, providing a basis for future research. Finally, technologies and methods used to synthesize thin-film coatings are outlined.
As part of the safety case development for generic disposal sites in Korea, it is necessary to develop generic assessment models using various geosphere–biosphere interfaces (GBIs) and potentially exposed groups (PEGs) that reflect the natural environmental characteristics and the lifestyles of people in Korea. In this study, a unique modeling strategy was developed to systematically construct and select Korean generic biosphere assessment models. The strategy includes three process steps (combination, screening, and experts’ scoring) for the biosphere system conditions. First, various conditions, such as climate, topography, GBIs, and PEGs, were combined in the biosphere system. Second, the combined calculation cases were configured into interrelation matrices to screen out some calculation cases that were highly unlikely or less significant in terms of the exposure dose. Finally, the selected calculation cases were prioritized based on expert judgment by scoring the knowledge, probability, and importance. The results of this study can be implemented in the development of biosphere assessment models for Korean generic sites. It is believed that this systematic methodology for selecting the candidate calculation cases can contribute to increasing the confidence of future site-specific biosphere assessment models.
Various linear system solvers with multi-physics analysis schemes are compared focusing on the near-field region considering thermal-hydraulic-chemical (THC) coupled multi-physics phenomena. APro, developed at KAERI for total system performance assessment (TSPA), performs a finite element analysis with COMSOL, for which the various combinations of linear system solvers and multi-physics analysis schemes should to be compared. The KBS-3 type disposal system proposed by Sweden is set as the target system and the near-field region, which accounts for most of the computational burden is considered. For comparison of numerical analysis methods, the computing time and memory requirement are the main concerns and thus the simulation time is set up to one year. With a single deposition hole problem, PARDISO and GMRESSSOR are selected as representative direct and iterative solvers respectively. The performance of representative linear system solvers is then examined through a problem with an increasing number of deposition holes and the GMRES-SSOR solver with a segregated scheme shows the best performance with respect to the computing time and memory requirement. The results of the comparative analysis are expected to provide a good guideline to choose better numerical analysis methods for TSPA.
APro, a modularized process-based total system performance assessment framework, was developed at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to simulate radionuclide transport considering coupled thermal-hydraulic-mechanicalchemical processes occurring in a geological disposal system. For reactive transport simulation considering geochemical reactions, COMSOL and PHREEQC are coupled with MATLAB in APro using an operator splitting scheme. Conventionally, coupling is performed within a MATLAB interface so that COMSOL stops the calculation to deliver the solution to PHREEQC and restarts to continue the simulation after receiving the solution from PHREEQC at every time step. This is inefficient when the solution is frequently interchanged because restarting the simulation in COMSOL requires an unnecessary setup process. To overcome this issue, a coupling scheme that calls PHREEQC inside COMSOL was developed. In this technique, PHREEQC is called through the “MATLAB function” feature, and PHREEQC results are updated using the COMSOL “Pointwise Constraint” feature. For the one-dimensional advection-reaction-dispersion problem, the proposed coupling technique was verified by comparison with the conventional coupling technique, and it improved the computation time for all test cases. Specifically, the more frequent the link between COMSOL and PHREEQC, the more pronounced was the performance improvement using the proposed technique.