UNIVERSITY researchers have found that a method of storing nuclear waste normally used only for high level waste could provide a safer, more efficient, and potentially cheaper, answer for products.
Intermediate level waste (ILW) makes up more than three quarters of the volume of material destined for geological disposal in the UK. Currently the preferred method in the UK is to encapsulate it in specially formulated cement. The waste is mixed with cement and sealed in steel drums, in preparation for disposal deep underground.
However, two studies published in the latest issues of The Journal of Nuclear Materials and European Journal of Glass Science and Technology show that turning such waste into glass, a process called vitrification, could be a better method for its long-term storage, transport and eventual disposal.
High level waste (HLW) is already processed using this technology, which reduces both the reactivity and the volume of the waste produced.