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The formation of stoichiometric uranium brannerite (UTi2O6) glass-ceramic composites from the component oxides in a one-pot synthesis

DOI: 10.1016/j.jnucmat.2020.152516 DOI Help

Authors: Malin C. Dixon Wilkins (University of Sheffield) , Martin C. Stennett (University of Sheffield) , Ewan Maddrell (National Nuclear Laboratory) , Neil C. Hyatt (University of Sheffield)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Journal Of Nuclear Materials , VOL 542

State: Published (Approved)
Published: December 2020
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 17243

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: Brannerite glass-ceramic composites have been suggested as suitable wasteform materials for high-actinide content wastes, but the formation of glass-ceramic composites containing stoichiometric uranium brannerite (UTi2O6) has not been well-studied. Uranium brannerite glass-ceramic composites were synthesised at by a one-pot cold-press and sinter route from the component oxides. As a comparison, two further samples were produced using an alkoxide-nitrate route. A range of compositions with varying molar ratios of uranium and titanium oxides (from 1:2 to 1:3.20) were synthesised, with a range of different heat treatments (1200 °C for 12–48 h, and 1250 °C for 12 h). All compositions were analysed by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and X-ray near-edge spectroscopy, and found to contain UTi2O6 as the majority crystalline phase forming within a glass matrix of nominal stoichiometry Na2AlBSi6O16. In compositions with UO2:TiO2 ratios of 1:2 and 1:2.28, particles of UO2 were observed in the glass matrix, likely due to dissolution of TiO2 in the glass phase; this was prevented by the addition of excess TiO2. This work demonstrates the suitability of this system to produce highly durable wasteforms with excellent actinide waste loading, even with a simple one-pot process. Some grains of brannerite consist of a UO2 particle encapsulated in a shell of UTi2O6, suggesting that brannerite crystallises around particles of UO2 until either the UO2 is fully depleted, or the kinetic barrier becomes too large for further diffusion to occur. We propose that the formation of brannerite within glass-ceramic composites at lower temperatures than that for pure ceramic brannerite is caused by an increase in the rate of diffusion of the reactants within the glass.

Journal Keywords: Glass-ceramics; Radioactive wasteforms; Brannerite; Uranium compounds

Subject Areas: Materials

Instruments: B18-Core EXAFS