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Thermal treatment for radioactive waste minimisation and hazard reduction

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - THERAMIN (Thermal treatment for radioactive waste minimisation and hazard reduction)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-11-30

Numerous technologies for thermal treatment of radioactive waste are available or in development worldwide. These technologies may be applied to a wide range of different radioactive waste streams, including non-standard waste types that present specific waste management challenges. Thermal treatment can result in significant volume and hazard reduction, both of which are beneficial for safe storage and disposal. Reduction in volume supports application of the Waste Hierarchy, which is mandatory under EU directives, allows best use of disposal capacity, and could result in large cost savings.
The potential benefits derived from the coordination of thermal treatment opportunities to address EU-wide radioactive waste issues are as follows:
• Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of different thermal treatment routes and their appropriateness and feasibility for specific waste streams.
• Establishing preferred routes and potential mutual sharing of thermal treatment facilities to open management routes and opportunities for waste management across Europe
• Better understanding of the characteristics and properties of thermally treated wasteforms and their viability and suitability for geological disposal.
• Enabling mutual sharing of experience in the management of specific waste types across EU countries through recognition of common wastes and common challenges
• Establishing a community of users and beneficiaries of thermal treatment as a waste management route.
• Reducing hazard and long-term risk from specific waste streams, minimising waste volume (waste hierarchy), and optimising and enhancing the viability of geological disposal facilities.

The overall objective of THERAMIN is to provide improved safe long-term storage and disposal of intermediate-level wastes (ILW) and of low level wastes (LLW) streams suitable for thermal processing. The work programme provides a vehicle for coordinated EU-wide research and technology demonstration designed to provide improved understanding and optimisation of the application of thermal treatment in radioactive waste management programmes across Europe, and will move technologies higher up the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale. The Consortium assembles a European-wide community of experts on thermal treatment technologies and radioactive waste management and disposal, who will work together with the aim of identifying efficiencies in national waste management and decommissioning programmes across Europe.
The project falls within the NFRP7-2016 topic “Research and innovation on the overall management of radioactive waste other than geological disposal”, but it also has relevance to NFRP6-2016 “Addressing key priority R&I issues for the first-of-the-kind geological repositories” of the Horizon 2020 EURATOM Work Programme 2016-17. Establishing this cross European community of thermal treatment practitioners and end users also supports the activities of NFRP8-2016 and the “Pan-European knowledge sharing and development of competence in radioactive waste management” through mobility of scientists between organisations and training of the next generation of young scientists.
In order to achieve the objectives a strategic review of thermal treatment options is firts carried out under Work Package 2 (WP2). The potential opportunities, synergies, roadblocks, timescales and cost implications for such technologies to facilitate radioactive waste management is evaluated. The most essential part of the THERAMIN project is WP3, which will experimentally evaluate the viability of selected thermal treatment technologies on key radioactive waste streams and validate the volume reduction that can be achieved by particular technology/waste stream combinations. The disposability of residual waste products, in particular the stability of thermally treated waste forms with implications for the performance of geological disposal facilities is evaluated in WP4.
The objective
During the reporting period (months 1-18) the activities focused on
-strategic review of radioactive waste streams (database of waste streams suitable for thermal treatment, strategic analysis of waste streams, availability and planned development of thermal treatment technologies and preparation of the viability matrix of waste streams and treatment processes)
-preparation and implementation of demonstration of selected treatment technologies
-preparatory work to identify and review of criteria and requirements for the disposability of thermally treated waste products
-preparation for characterisation of thermally treated waste products and secondary waste
-dissemination of the results of the project
The strategic review has been completed but it is partly based on confidential data and thus the detailed results are confidential. The draft version of the viability matrix of waste streams and treatment processes have been made but the matrix will be finalized after results from demonstration trials and results from characterization of the final products will be available. The report on Waste Acceptance Criteria and requirements in terms of characterisation has been completed and the report is available on the web site of the THERAMIN project.
The most essential results of the project will be experimental verification of applicability and suitability of selected thermal treatment technologies for treatment of different low and intermediate radioactive wastes and characteriszation of the final products in order to enable safe long term storage of them. Until now most of the experimental verification test trials with hot and simulated (non-radioactive) samples have been carried out. However, the results from demonstration test trials are not yet available and characterization final products from test trials has not yet been completed and thus it is too early to present the final conclusions. On the other hand, until now the demonstration test trials have not resulted in any unexpected results and thus the project has been successful. The final conclusions can be done after detailed characterization of the final products from each demonstrated thermal treatment technology has been completed and disposability of thermally treated products has been evaluated.
The overall objective of the project is to prove the capability of thermal treatment technologies to reduce volume of low and intermediate waste to be stored and simultaneously improve safety of disposal by efficient immobilization of the products from thermal treatment. All selected technologies, which were selected to be demonstrated in the THERAMIN project, have been developed and tested previously before the THERAMIN project and thus is can be expected that the objectives of the project will be achieved.