The US plan for high-level nuclear waste includes the immobilization of long-lived radionuclides in glass or ceramic waste forms in stainless-steel canisters for disposal in deep geological repositories. Here we report that, under simulated repository conditions, corrosion could be significantly accelerated at the interfaces of different barrier materials, which has not been considered in the current safety and performance assessment models. Severe localized corrosion was found at the interfaces between stainless steel and a model nuclear waste glass and between stainless steel and a ceramic waste form. The accelerated corrosion can be attributed to changes of solution chemistry and local acidity/alkalinity within a confined space, which significantly alter the corrosion of both the waste-form materials and the metallic canisters. The corrosion that is accelerated by the interface interaction between dissimilar materials could profoundly impact the service life of the nuclear waste packages, which, therefore, should be carefully considered when evaluating the performance of waste forms and their packages. Moreover, compatible barriers should be selected to further optimize the performance of the geological repository system.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.
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This work was supported as part of the Center for Performance and Design of Nuclear Waste Forms and Containers, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences under Award no. DESC0016584. The authors thank C. Crawford for supplying the ISG. The authors are grateful to S. Boona and E. L. Alexander from Ohio State University and L. Dupuy from TESCAN Analytics, as well as M. J. Olszta and N. Overman from PNNL for the technical support.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Guo, X., Gin, S., Lei, P. et al. Self-accelerated corrosion of nuclear waste forms at material interfaces. Nat. Mater. 19, 310–316 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-019-0579-x