A Summary of ISL highlights

The Immobilisation Science Laboratory, ISL, established in August 2001, is one of four University Research Alliances (URA’s) set-up by BNFL to address the decline in the UK nuclear science knowledge base. Members of the ISL examine both radioactive and toxic waste immobilisation.

Quick Links: 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003

2007

The current PDRAs are Martin Stennett (application of ceramics and glass ceramics for immobilisation of plutonium containing legacy wastes), Paul Bingham (immobilisation of toxic and radioactive waste in phosphate glasses), Claire Utton (thermodynamic modelling), Martin Whittle (modelling), Andreas Jenni (Immobilisation of radioactive waste in ceramics and cements)and Nick Collier (Immobilisation of Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes in Cement). Eight PhD students are studying in the ISL at Sheffield with Paolo Borges and Guang Yang being awarded their PhDs in 2007.

The seventh Radioactive Waste Immobilisation Network (RWIN) meeting on ILW was held at the Harwell Conference Centre in February 2007. (Check the RWIN website http://www.rwin.org.uk for further details and announcements of future meetings.)

Neil Milestone, Neil Hyatt and Martin Stennett attended an ECI conference at Barga, Italy in March on Alternative Materials for Radioactive Waste Stabilization and Nuclear Materials Containment. Several papers were presented and useful discussion and contacts were made in an informal setting.

In April 2007 the Immobilisation Science Laboratory hosted an International Training Courses on Ceramics for Actinides supported by the Royal Society. The goals of these courses were: to obtain knowledge on optimal methods of synthesis of ceramic waste forms for the immobilisation of actinides and other long-lived dangerous radionuclides, and to use the experience on ceramics for actinides obtained from the Radium Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. Dr Boris Burakov gave a number of lectures and practical sessions followed by analytical sessions. Michael Ojovan, Neil Hyatt and Martin Stennett of the ISL were the local organisers of the training course.

As an IAEA technical expert Michael Ojovan participated in two IAEA expert missions: to Chernobyl NPP, Ukraine on 13-17 August 2007 (Fig. 14) and to Tbilisi, Georgia, on 24-28 December 2007.

Chernobyl Figure 14

After many years of planning, the 31st International Symposium on the Scientific Basis for Nuclear Waste Management was hosted by the ISL in Sheffield, September 16th-21st 2007. (Fig. 13) 140 delegates from eighteen countries heard over sixty talks and viewed an equal number of posters during the four days of scientific sessions, complemented by a social programme including a Yorkshire themed reception in the Winter gardens in Sheffield, a visit to Chatsworth House and a banquet in Cutlers’ Hall in the city centre.

Bruce McKirdy Figure 13, Bruce Mckirdy of the NDA delivering the keynote presentation

The Symposium offered an overview of the status of the UK’s clean-up programme and reviewed international research programmes including those in Europe and the USA. Topics covered in the sessions included geological disposal concepts, ILW Wasteforms, Glasses and Glass Composite Materials, Leaching, Ceramic Wasteforms, Radiation Effects, Pu Wasteforms, Spent Fuel, Engineered Barrier Systems, Mobilisation, Migration and Retention and Performance Assessment. Invited lectures by leading experts kicked off each session providing a snapshot of the state-of-the-art in the pertinent topic. A technical visit to Sellafield was arranged for the last day including tours of many of the plant and storage facilities.

Fergus Gibb has been appointed to the newly reconstituted Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, CoRWM. The reconstituted Committee will play a key role in scrutinising Government’s and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) plans for the long term management, including interim storage and disposal, of radioactive waste. It will also provide ongoing independent advice to UK Government and the devolved administrations.

2006

ISL academics include Acting Director Neil Milestone (cementation), Fergus Gibb (deep geological disposal), Russell Hand (vitrification and glass research), Michael Ojovan (waste immobilisation), Karl Travis (materials modelling), Günter Möbus (electron microscopy), Neil Hyatt (materials chemistry) and Hajime Kinoshita while John Roberts handles day-to-day activities as Manager of the ISL. Neil Chapman from Nagra in Switzerland, a geologist with wide ranging experience in radwaste immobilisation, and Chairman of the ITC School of Underground Waste Storage and Disposal is a Visiting Professor.

With the departures of Suzy Morgan, Yun Bai, Kevin Good and Jean-Philippe Gorce there are now six postdocs in the ISL. Suzy Morgan has joined ex-ISL postdoc Rick Short at Nexia Solutions whilst Yun Bai has been appointed a lecturer at Queen's University Belfast. The current PDRAs are Neil McTaggart (modelling the physical and fluid dynamic environments around the deep borehole disposals of radioactive wastes), Martin Stennett (application of ceramics and glass ceramics for immobilisation of plutonium containing legacy wastes), Paul Bingham (immobilisation of toxic and radioactive waste in phosphate glasses), Claire Utton (thermodynamic modelling) Karl Whittle (ceramics) and Martin Whittle (modelling) . Ten PhD students are studying in the ISL at Sheffield with Nick Collier (Encapsulation of iron hydroxide flocs in cements), Claire Utton (The effect of elevated temperatures and barium carbonate additions on the hydration of composite cements) and Anthony Setiadi (Corrosion of metals in composite cement) being awarded their PhDs in 2006.

2006 kicked off with the fifth RWIN meeting on HLW held at The University of Sheffield in Janaury followed by the sixth meeting on LLW held at The University of Salford in October. With the initial EPSRC now finished RWIN continues to build on its success with further meetings planned in 2007.

Figure 12

In February John Roberts, figure 12, was invited by the EPSRC to visit South Africa as part of a delegation to discuss the South African energy requirements. As well as giving a presentation at an energy summit in Pretoria he also had the opportunity to visit The University of the Western Cape, The University of Cape Town and the nuclear reactor at Koeberg. In March the British High Commission in Canada invited John to give a presentation at an energy workshop in Toronto. Following the workshop he visited the research reactor at McMaster University.

The ISL hosted the Universities Nuclear Technology Forum in April 2006. ISL students Paulo Borges, Henry Foxhall (figure 11), Laura Gordon, Jariah Juoi, Lyubka Spasova and Guang Yang all gave presentations with a special mention to Andrew Connelly for coming runner-up in the INucE sponsored competition for best presentation.

Figure 11

John Roberts was invited to be a member of the Local Organising Committee of two major national conference in 2007. The Nuclear Education and Training NET 2006 held at The University of Cambridge concentrated on the provision of nuclear training and education whilst UK Long-Term Nuclear Waste Management: Next steps? held at Loughborough University considered how the UK research community should take forward the recommendations of the CoRWM report on the management of the UK nuclear waste. Neil Hyatt and Fergus Gibb, figure 3, both gave presentations at Loughborough whilst John Roberts gave a presentation on the success of the four Nexia Solutions University Research Alliances at Cambridge.

The ISL hosted immobilisation experts from Russia in October and November 2006. Dr Olga Batykhnova from the Scientific and Industrial Association “Radon”, Moscow, Russia visited the ISL in October as an IAEA scientific visitor to discuss collaborations on UK and Russian experiences in training personnel for management of radioactive wastes and environmental restoration. In November Dr Boris Burakov, Ms Victoria Gribova and Mr Alexander Kitsay from the Radium Khlopin Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia visited the ISL to present courses on the synthesis of different types of ceramics for actinides immobilisation. It is planned to organise the second training course on ceramics for actinide immobilisation in April 2007.

Neil Milestone was successful in obtaining funding from the EPSRC to fund a visit to China, to discuss collaborative work on alternative cementitious systems for the immobilisation of intermediate level waste. Based on the success of this visit Xincheng Li has joined ISL from November 2006 for one year as a visiting researcher sponsored by the Chinese government to carry out a research project on activating current BFS/OPC system by using neutral salts.

Figure 10

With the MRS 2007 Scientific Basis for Radioactive Waste Management Symposium due to be held in Sheffield, members of the ISL gave presentations at the 2006 meeting held in Boston, USA. Oral presentations were given by Neil Hyatt, Martin Stennett, Karl Whittle, Guang Yang and John Roberts. Neil Hyatt was also invited to Chair the Steering Committee and edit the proceedings for the 2009 conference in Boston. Other conferences attended included the International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference in Las Vegas, USA Advances in Cement and Concrete X, Switzerland, Seventh Lednice Conference on the Statistical Mechanics of Liquids, Czech Republic, CIMTEC 2006, Italy, Energy Choices 2005 and the Managing Nuclear Liabilities.

2005

ISL academics include Acting Director Neil Milestone (cementation), taking over from Bill Lee who has moved to Imperial College London to be the new Head of the Department of Materials, Fergus Gibb (deep geological disposal), Russell Hand (vitrification and glass research), Michael Ojovan (waste immobilisation), Karl Travis (materials modelling), Günter Möbus (electron microscopy), Neil Hyatt (materials chemistry) and Hajime Kinoshita while John Roberts handles day-to-day activities as Manager of the ISL. Neil Chapman from Nagra in Switzerland, a geologist with wide ranging experience in radwaste immobilisation, and Chairman of the ITC School of Underground Waste Storage and Disposal is a Visiting Professor.

With the departures of Sean McLoughlin and Rick Short there are now seven postdocs in the ISL. Suzy Morgan was appointed in 2005 to work on glass durability and interaction with the near-field – partly funded under the European Union Framework VI Integrated Project NF-Pro. The other PDRAs are Yun Bai, (novel cement science and technology), Jean-Philippe Gorce (water phases in cement systems), Kevin Good (microstructural and meso-scale modelling), Neil McTaggert (modelling the physical and fluid dynamic environments around the deep borehole disposals of radioactive wastes), Martin Stennett (application of ceramics and glass ceramics for immobilisation of plutonium containing legacy wastes) and Paul Bingham (immobilisation of toxic and radioactive waste in phosphate glasses). Seventeen PhD students are studying in the ISL with Suzy Morgan (Characterisation and Interaction of Simulated High Level, Radioactive Waste (HLW) with Borosilicate Glass) and Caroline Morrison (Improving construction sustainability by using glassy secondary materials as aggregates in concrete) being awarded their PhDs in 2005.

In May the ISL was delighted to host Professor Rod Ewing from the University of Michigan who visited Sheffield in his role as the Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer. He gave a well-attended lecture on the Impact of Nuclear Power on the Environment: Plutonium and Mineralogy.

Figure 9

Figure 9 shows Professor Ewing before his lecture. Other visitors to the ISL in 2005 included Bond Calloway, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Valentina Stolyarova, Institute of Silicate Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia. and Ron Palmer of the Diagnostic Instrumentation and Analysis Laboratory, Mississippi State University. Kevin Farrell of the British Ceramic Federation visited the ISL, figure 8, to present PhD student Claire Utton with a cheque for £2000, enabling her to visit ISL International Advisory Panel member Karen Scrivener at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne to carry out an experimental programme for her PhD.

Figure 8

Neil Hyatt is to be congratulated on receiving the prestigious prize for best paper presented in the Nuclear and Environmental Technology Division of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Ceramics Society for his paper on “The structural chemistry of molybdenum in simulant high level nuclear waste glasses: investigated by Mo K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy” Co-authors on the paper are R.J.Short, R.J.Hand and W.E.Lee (ISL, University of Sheffield), F.R.Livens (University of Manchester) and R.L.Bilsborrow (CCLRC Daresbury Laboratory).

Figure 7

Rick Short was awarded a scholarship by the British Nuclear Energy Society to cover the full costs of attendance at the inaugural six week residential World Nuclear University Institute at Idaho Falls followed by a visit to Yucca Mountain. He has also received funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering to cover his travel costs. The aim of the summer institute is to provide a detailed education on the technical, social and political aspects of electricity generation via nuclear fission. Speakers included James Lovelock and Hans Blix amongst many others and there were field trips to several cutting edge nuclear research institutions, as well as the Yucca Mountain Geological Waste Repository.

With the MRS 2007 Scientific Basis for Radioactive Waste Management Symposium due to be held in Sheffield, the ISL had a large presence at the 2005 meeting held in Ghent, Belgium. Invited oral presentations were given by Neil Milestone and Neil Hyatt with poster contributions from Hajime Kinoshita, Martin Stennett, Paul Bingham and Jean-Philippe Gorce, Other conferences attended included the 107th American Ceramic Society Conference, World Geopolymer Congress 2005, Nuclear Congress 2005, ICEM05/DECOM05, Global 2005: Nuclear Energy Systems for Future Generation and Global Sustainability, Energy Choices 2005 and the European Nuclear Congress.

The EPSRC funded Radioactive Waste Immobilisation Network (RWIN) continues to go from strength to strength. Two meetings were held in the 2005. The first was an open meeting held at Imperial College London and the second was a two day meeting held in Sheffield. There are now over 300 registered RWIN members with an average meeting attendance of over 70. The next three meetings will deal with HLW and Spent Fuel, ILW and LLW.

2004

ISL academics include Bill Lee (ceramic/glass research and Director of the ISL), Fergus Gibb (deep geological disposal), Russell Hand (vitrification and glass research), Neil Milestone (cementation), Michael Ojovan (waste immobilisation), Karl Travis (materials modelling), Günter Möbus (electron microscopy) and Neil Hyatt (materials chemistry) while John Roberts handles day-to-day activities as Manager of the ISL. Haji Kinoshita has recently been appointed to an ISL lectureship and will arrive in Sheffield April 1st 2005. Neil Chapman from Nagra in Switzerland, a geologist with wide ranging experience in radwaste immobilisation, and Chairman of the ITC School of Underground Waste Storage and Disposal has been appointed as a Departmental Visiting Professor.

There are now eleven postdocs working in the ISL. The most recent appointments are Yun Bai, (novel cement science and technology), Kevin Good (microstructural and meso-scale modelling), Sean McLoughlin (glass durability and interaction with the near-field – partly funded under the European Union Framework VI Integrated Project NF-Pro), Neil McTaggert (modelling the physical and fluid dynamic environments around the deep borehole disposals of radioactive wastes) and Martin Stennett (application of ceramics and glass ceramics for immobilisation of plutonium containing legacy wastes). Seventeen PhD students are studying in the ISL with new funding in 2004 from collaborative projects with UKAEA Dounreay and AWE. A 1-year M.Sc. programme in Waste Immobilisation started in September 2004. This was attended by students from the UK, USA and Portugal. An IAEA scholar (Attila Baksay from Hungary) visited for two months and attended many of the MSc lectures. Twelve guest lecturers from BNFL and Nirex taught on one of the course modules providing a valuable link between the course and current industrial methods. Congratulations to Kath Taylor who won the second year postgraduate prize in the non-metals section, a third successive prize for the ISL in this competition

In November five members of the ISL International Advisory Panel (IAP) visited the department for a two day visit. Pete McGrail (PNNL), Ian Pegg (VSL), Karen Scrivener (EPFL), Pierre Van Iseghem (SCK•CEN) and Etienne Vernaz (CEA) heard presentations from all the ISL academic staff. This year particular emphasis was placed on the cementation research being carried out with presentations from academic staff and ISL postgraduate students Claire Utton, Anthony Setiadi and Nick Collier. The IAP’s report was positive and encouraging and highlighted the breadth and depth of the research projects.

Figure 6

Figure 6 shows the five members of the IAP with ISL Director Professor Bill Lee.

The ECI Conference on Alternative Wasteforms held in Alaska in January kicked off the international conference year for ISL members. This was followed by presentations at Waste Management ’04, in Tucson, AZ, USA, MRS 2004 held in San Francisco, CA, USA, the 106th ACerS Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, USA, the 7th International Conference on Magnetic Resonance in Porous Media in Paris, France, ICG2004 held in Florence, Italy and the XX International Congress on Glass held in Kyoto, Japan.

National conferences attended included the IOM3 Materials Congress, the Universities Nuclear Technology Forum, SGT Annual Conference, the IOM3 Cement and Concrete Science Conference,

Figure 4 Figure 5

(ISL postgraduate student Laura Gordon won the prize for best poster, Figure 4) the BNES What’s Waste? Seminar and the CCP5 Conference on New Perspectives in Modelling and Simulation: Theory and Applications held at the University of Sheffield. Figure 5 shows Dr Rick Short with Dr James Marrow, University of Manchester and Dave Goddard, BNFL NSTS, at the joint Royal Academy of Engineering/EPSRC Celebration of UK Engineering and Innovation held in November at the ExCel Exhibition Centre in London. The ISL contributed to the Energy theme stand. The ISL also had an exhibition stand at the BNES Congress 2004 held at UMIST in June.

A highlight of the year was the successful launch of the EPSRC funded Radioactive Waste Immobilisation Network (RWIN). The first meeting was held over two days in Sheffield in July and attracted over 90 delegates with 12 invited oral presentations and 20 posters. This was followed by a one day meeting at the University of Cambridge in December with over 70 delegates.

In July the ISL hosted Denis Strachan from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, WA, USA. He gave four seminars during the week of his visit and discussed various projects as possibilities for collaboration between the ISL and PNNL. He then visited the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge before concluding his visit to the UK with a visit to the BNFL site at Sellafield.

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows Dr Strachan with ISL postdoctoral research assistant Dr Rick Short.

2003

Staff actively involved in the ISL are Bill Lee (ceramic research and Director of the ISL), John Sharp (cementation), Fergus Gibb (deep geological disposal), Russell Hand (vitrification and glass research), Neil Milestone (cementation), Michael Ojovan (waste immobilisation), Karl Travis (materials modelling), Günter Möbus (electron microscopy) and Neil Hyatt (functional materials) with John Roberts handling the day-to-day activities as Manager of the ISL.

Four new postdocs have been appointed in the last year with five more to be appointed in the first quarter of 2004. Jean-Philippe Gorce and Qizhi Zhou are researching NMR of free water in cement and alternative cement systems respectively complimenting the work established by Senior Research Fellow Joanne Hill. Joanne will be moving to Nirex early in 2004 to take up a permanent post as Wasteform Research Manager further strengthening the links between the ISL and Nirex. Our first appointments in the research area of toxic waste immobilisation are Paul Bingham (development of phosphate based glasses for waste vitrification), and Nichola Coleman (environmental aspects of waste disposal in ceramics), as part of the departmental EPSRC Portfolio award.

There are currently ten postgraduate students studying for Ph.Ds. covering all aspects of the ISL portfolio. Rick Short became the first ISL postgraduate to submit his thesis and he has now taken up a position as a postdoctoral research associate investigating the calcination process. Rick had a successful year representing the ISL. He won the poster prize at the IOM3 Ceramic Industry Division’s Annual Ceramic Convention and thus went forward to represent the UK at the 8th European Ceramic Society Conference held in Turkey. Rick was unlucky to lose out on top place and came a very creditable second. He also won second place at the BNES Special Interest Group on Waste Management and Decommissioning Young Speakers Competition. Congratulations, also, to Suzy Morgan who won the second year postgraduate prize in the non-metals section, a second successive prize for the ISL in this competition.

The ISL International Advisory Panel (IAP) visited for the second time in November represented by Fred Glasser (University of Aberdeen) and Karen Scrivener (EPFL). This year particular emphasis was placed on the cementation research being carried out with presentations from academic staff and ISL postgraduate students Claire Utton, Anthony Setiadi and Nick Collier. The IAP’s report was very positive with the belief that the people, facilities and approach are now in place to make positive progress.

A highlight of the year was the visit to Sweden to attend the MRS 2003 Symposium on the Scientific Basis For Radioactive Waste Management XXVII and SKB facilities. Fergus Gibb and Michael Ojovan gave oral presentations at the KalmerSalen Conference Centre in Kalmar with posters presented by Michael Ojovan, Suzy Morgan, Neil Hyatt, Rick Short and Joanne Hill. Following the conference was an opportunity to visit some of the SKB (the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company) facilities.

Figure 1 Figure 2

Figure 1 shows members of the ISL 460m underground in the Äspö Hard Rock Laboratory whilst figure 2 shows Neil Milestone examining the core of one of the first borehole samples taken by SKB.

Other visits by members of the ISL include a visit to the CEA facilities in Saclay, Paris and Marcoule near Avignon. This was followed by a visit to the SCK•CEN facilities at Mol, Belgium. Conferences attended include the 11th International Congress on Chemistry of Cement in Durban, South Africa, the American Ceramic Society convention in Nashville, TN, USA, the 23rd Conference on Cement and Concrete Science in Leeds, ICEM’03 in Oxford and the joint BNES/NIA Energy Choices conference in London. The ISL also had a large representation at Crystallisation 2003 held at the University of Sheffield. Russell Hand attended the official launch of the World Nuclear University in London in September 2003 and Karl Travis spent the month of April on sabbatical at the University of Swinburne in Victoria, Australia.

In October the ISL hosted Boris Burakov from the Radium Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. He gave three seminars during the week of his visit and discussed various projects as possibilities for collaboration between the ISL and the Radium Institute. A highlight of the week was his departmental seminar on Mineral-like products and hot particles from the damaged Chernobyl reactor.