Radioactive waste disposal methods are highly needed as nuclear waste is hazardous not only to people but our environment as well. There is good news, though. A professor discovered a way in immobilizing nuclear wastes in glass and ceramics.
Professor Ashutosh Goel of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering invented a method of immobilizing radioactive iodine in ceramics and glass. This discovery is crucial since iodine-129 is a source of concern for nuclear waste management.
With a half-life of 15.7 million years, iodine-129 is hazardous especially when dispersed in the environment. It can easily scatter in air and water which also increases a risk for people getting cancer as it targets a person’s thyroid gland.
Radioactive Waste Disposal Methods in Immobilizing Nuclear Wastes
Goel says that “glass is the perfect material” in immobilizing these radioactive wastes as it has “excellent chemical durability.” He is now part of the cleanup mission in Hanford, a site that manufactured over 20 million pieces of uranium metal that are used by nine nuclear reactors near the Columbia River.
Moreover, Goel adds that the “implications of our research will be much more visible” when they start immobilizing wastes into a glass that is expected to start at around 2022 to 2023. Plants in Hanford are no joke as they process 110,000 tons of fuel from reactors.
Thus, their cleanup mission, which started in 1989, is more than imperative. Now, they are three-fifths done with their challenge.
They are focusing in “underground and has to be immobilized,” Goel says as the what they have are “highly complex, multicomponent radioactive waste.” It almost contains “everything in the periodic table.”
These wastes that contain radioactive material which is usually a by-product of nuclear power are highly dangerous. Therefore, the research for radioactive waste disposal methods is essential in soon finding out ways to dispose of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel in a safe way.
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