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Uranium Contamination of Stainless Steel in Nuclear Processing Plants

DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.7b05139 DOI Help

Authors: Timothy Kerry (The University of Manchester) , Anthony W. Banford (The University of Manchester; National Nuclear Laboratory) , William Bower (The University of Manchester) , Olivia R. Thompson (National Nuclear Laboratory) , Thomas Carey (National Nuclear Laboratory) , J. Frederick W. Mosselmans (Diamond Light Source) , Konstantin Ignatyev (Diamond Light Source) , Clint Sharrad (The University of Manchester)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research

State: Published (Approved)
Published: February 2018
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 12505

Abstract: Stainless steel coupons have been exposed to uranium-containing nitric acid solutions, in conditions similar to those found in various uranium handling nuclear facilities across the nuclear fuel cycle. Solid state analysis of the stainless steel samples and solution composition analysis were undertaken to gain a better understanding of the contamination process mechanisms. Stainless steel coupons were immersed in 12 M HNO3 containing uranium (1 g/L), in the form of uranyl, for periods of up to 255 days. Uranium contamination was observed across all time lengths of exposure. Solution analysis indicated that the levels of contamination reached an equilibrium state after ~14 days. Investigations using Raman microscopy, synchrotron microfocus X-ray fluorescence and X-ray absorption spectroscopy showed inhomogeneous localization of uranyl species within the passive layer of the stainless steel surface. Over longer time lengths of exposure these contaminant species were predominantly found to locate within intergranular regions of the stainless steel. This finding should be taken into consideration when developing decontamination protocols for corroded stainless steel that has been exposed to uranium, to facilitate metal reuse/recycle and minimize hazardous waste volumes.

Subject Areas: Chemistry, Materials, Energy


Instruments: I18-Microfocus Spectroscopy