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Durability of zirconolite in hydrothermal fluids: implications for nuclear waste disposal

Gieré R., Malmström J., Reusser E., Lumpkin G.R., Düggelin M, Mathys D., Guggenheim R., Günther D.
2 001
Materials Research Society, Symposium Proceedings
Synthetic zirconolite (CaZrTi2O7) doped with rare earth elements (REEs) and Hf has been subjected to corrosion tests in a closed system at elevated temperature and pressure in fluids with various compositions. Together with previous studies, the results indicate only a very weak corrosion below 250°C at a pressure of 50 MPa. Above that temperature and up to 500°C zirconolite suffers from relatively rapid corrosion and, depending on the fluid composition, it may be covered by various secondary phases. Above 500°C in Na-rich fluids, zirconolite is replaced by perovskiteand calzirtite (nominally CaTiO3 and Ca2r5Ti2O16, respectively), but theREEs and Hf (acting as actinide analogues and/or neutron absorbers) are almost quantitatively incorporated into the secondary phases. The breakdown of zirconolite and its replacement by other phases in the laboratory tests are comparable to reactions observed in natural systems. Additional experiments with U-doped zirconolite revealed differences in the behavior of the used actinide analogues (Nd, Ce, Gd)and U during corrosion. The results of this study, together with observations on natural samples, strongly support the use of zirconolite-based ceramic waste forms for actinide-rich wastes.
EES Authors: 
Reto Gieré

Department of Earth and Environmental Science / University of Pennsylvania, 251 Hayden Hall, 240 South 33rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316