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Treatment and Disposal of Irradiated Graphite and Other Carbonaceous Waste


Gas-Cooled Reactors (GCR), RBMK and some Material Test Reactors (MTR) make use of graphite as moderator of the fuel, structures of the core and/or thermal columns. During operation, the graphite and other carbonaceous materials like carbon brick, pyrocarbon and silicon carbide coatings are contaminated by fission products and neutron activation. These irradiated carbonaceous wastes are problematic due to their content of long-lived radioisotopes (e.g. Carbon14, Chlorine 36) and due to their large volumes. About 250000 t of i-carbon are existing, worldwide. Acceptable solutions have not yet been established to handle this kind of waste. This fact also represents a significant drawback for the market introduction of graphite-moderated reactors like Very/High-Temperature Reactors (V/HTR) as a promising Generation IV system candidate. Graphite moderated reactors represent the very first generation of nuclear reactors and therefore need to be decommissioned ahead of other reactor types which evolved later. Presently, accelerated decommissioning of GCR and RBMK and subsequent disposal of i-graphite is the preferred option for not leaving this waste as a legacy for future generations. The CARBOWASTE project aims at an integrated waste management approach for this kind of radioactive wastes which are mainly characterized as Intermediate Level Waste (ILW), due to the varying content of long-lived radioisotopes. Methodologies and databases will be developed for assessing different technology options like direct disposal in adopted waste containers, treatment & purification before disposal or even recycling i-carbonaceous material for reuse in the nuclear field. The feasibility of the associated processes will be experimentally investigated to deliver data for modeling the microstructure and localization of contaminants. This is of high importance to better understand the origin of the contamination and the release mechanisms during treatment and/or disposal.

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
€ 1 003 757,55
52428 Julich

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Köln Düren
Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Alexandra De Schepper (Ms.)
Total cost
No data

Participants (29)