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Vitrification of excess plutonium

By G. G. Wicks, J. M. Mckibben and M. J. Plodinec


As a result of nuclear disarmament activities, many thousands of nuclear weapons are being retired in the US and Russia, producing a surplus of about 50 MT of weapons grade plutonium (Pu) in each country. In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE) has more than 20 MT of Pu scrap, residue, etc., and Russia is also believed to have at least as much of this type of material. The entire surplus Pu inventories in the US and Russia present a clear and immediate danger to national and international security. It is important that a solution be found to secure and manage this material effectively and that such an effort be implemented as quickly as possible. One option under consideration is vitrification of Pu into a relatively safe, durable, accountable, proliferation-resistant form. As a result of decades of experience within the DOE community involving vitrification of a variety of hazardous and radioactive wastes, this existing technology can now be expanded to include immobilization of large amounts of Pu. This technology can then be implemented rapidly using the many existing resources currently available. A strategy to vitrify many different types of Pu will be discussed. In this strategy, the arsenal of vitrification tools, procedures and techniques already developed throughout the waste management community can be used in a staged Pu vitrification effort. This approach uses the flexible vitrification technology already available and can even be made portable so that it may be brought to the source and ultimately, used to produce a common, borosilicate glass form for the vitrified Pu. The final composition of this product can be made similar to nationally and internationally accepted HLW glasses

Topics: 35 Arms Control, Radioactive Waste Processing, 05 Nuclear Fuels, Nuclear Explosives, Safeguards, Vitrification, Arms Control, Nuclear Weapons, Decommissioning, 45 Military Technology, Weaponry, And National Defense
Publisher: Westinghouse Savannah River Company
Year: 1994
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Provided by: UNT Digital Library
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