Nuclear Power: Digging Deep and Aiming High

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
Claire Corkhill, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
As a result of over 60 years of civil and military operations, the world has been left with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste material. Having the ability to safely treat, store and dispose of this highly hazardous waste is critical to delivering new nuclear reactors, commonly seen as a vital part of a cleaner, low CO2, energy solution. The major challenge to delivering a solution for the disposal of nuclear waste is time – the waste will be hazardous for up to one million years, hence any solution must span generations, perhaps even civilisations.

This talk will focus on how 21st century large scale physics is supporting the policy development and implementation of a geological disposal option, which will utilise a highly engineered facility, deep underground. We will discuss how our world’s first long-duration x-ray synchrotron experiment, performed in collaboration with scientists at Diamond Light Source, UK, is helping to understand the performance of nuclear waste materials and materials used in the geological disposal facility over long time scales. These world first experiments are also complemented by additional x-ray synchrotron techniques, including X-ray diffraction, X-ray micro-tomography and X-ray absorption spectroscopy, giving unprecedented insight into the temporal and spatial evolution of nuclear waste materials in a geological disposal facility.