Novel Long-Term Immobilization Method for Radioactive Iodine-129 Using a Zeolite/Apatite Composite Sintered Body Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The amount of radioactive iodine generated from nuclear power plants is expected to increase with the proliferation of nuclear energy production, and long-term immobilization methods for such radioactive elements need to be developed to make nuclear energy sustainable. The standard immobilization method of radioactive elements, vitrification, is not very effective for radioactive iodine-129 because of the low solubility of iodine in silicate melts, its very high volatility at standard vitrification process temperatures, and its instability in the alkaline environment of deep geological layers below 300 m. We have developed a novel three-phase ceramic composite produced by a sintering process. Iodine adsorbed onto Ca-type zeolite A was covered with a hydroxyapatite nanolayer through the exchange reaction of ammonium with calcium. Clusters of iodine of 30 nm within the zeolite structure were found to be thermally stable up to 1253 K because of the partial blockage of the alpha-cage apertures by ammonium ions and the partial change from a crystalline phase to an amorphous phase at 473 K. No gasification of iodine molecules was found to occur during the sintering process. The outer phase was highly crystalline hydroxyfluorapatite in which the hydroxyapatite nanolayer plays an important role for successful sintering. The elution of iodine in low-dioxygen water, similar to that found within the Earth's crust, was investigated and was found to occur only in the surface layer of the sintered body.

authors

  • Watanabe, Yujiro
  • Ikoma, Toshiyuki
  • Yamada, Hirohisa
  • Suetsugu, Yasushi
  • Komatsu, Yu
  • Stevens, Geoffrey W
  • Moriyoshi, Yusuke
  • Tanaka, Junzo

publication date

  • July 29, 2009