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As nuclear energy continues to be an attractive and sustainable way to power the UK, the development of safe handling protocols for future and legacy nuclear waste becomes increasingly important.
In this study, scientists at the University of Manchester, Sellafield, Queens University Belfast, and the National Nuclear Laboratory conducted experiments on beamlines B16 and I15 at Diamond to irradiate water contained within magnesium hydroxide and alumina nanoparticle sludge. This sludge material has been formed from the corrosion of metal cladding on the nuclear fuel rods at nuclear storage sites at Sellafield, UK, and Handford, USA.
The aim of the work is to better understand these heterogeneous chemical systems and the key mechanisms that take place when irradiated, in particular the formation of molecular hydrogen. By using synchrotron radiation the scientists could uncover the details of radiolytic production and consumption in these sludges and develop a consistent model for determining when hydrogen bubble formation will occur. This understanding will inform the future treatment and storage of nuclear waste.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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