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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Nov 20;46(22):12616-22. doi: 10.1021/es302734y. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Rhenium solubility in borosilicate nuclear waste glass: implications for the processing and immobilization of technetium-99.

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352, USA.


The immobilization of technetium-99 ((99)Tc) in a suitable host matrix has proven to be a challenging task for researchers in the nuclear waste community around the world. In this context, the present work reports on the solubility and retention of rhenium, a nonradioactive surrogate for (99)Tc, in a sodium borosilicate glass. Glasses containing target Re concentrations from 0 to 10,000 ppm [by mass, added as KReO(4) (Re(7+))] were synthesized in vacuum-sealed quartz ampules to minimize the loss of Re from volatilization during melting at 1000 °C. The rhenium was found as Re(7+) in all of the glasses as observed by X-ray absorption near-edge structure. The solubility of Re in borosilicate glasses was determined to be ~3000 ppm (by mass) using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy. At higher rhenium concentrations, additional rhenium was retained in the glasses as crystalline inclusions of alkali perrhenates detected with X-ray diffraction. Since (99)Tc concentrations in a glass waste form are predicted to be <10 ppm (by mass), these Re results implied that the solubility should not be a limiting factor in processing radioactive wastes, assuming Tc as Tc(7+) and similarities between Re(7+) and Tc(7+) behavior in this glass system.

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