St. Petersburg, Russia
December 13, 2011

SMW Engineering, the international metallurgical fabricator and engineering services company, has announced the development, certification and production of an innovative non-return protective container (NRPC) for low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes (RAW) storage/burial.  

The proposed container is distinguished by its very long functional life (it is designed for a period of use of not less than 300 years, which can be extended to over 1000 years through material enhancement, which work is now ongoing); high chemical and biological durability, and superior mechanical properties.

The SMWE-designed containers are chemically inert, thermally stable, resistant to radioactive components leaching and mechanically strong.

Dr. Valentin Zhabrev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Faculty/Department Head at the St. Petersburg Technological University, commented on the announcement, “These unique container characteristics result from the fundamentally new technology of slag-stone casting combined with direct immobilization of radioactive waste within the container’s core component, which thereby effectively reduces radioactive and toxic environment contamination.”  Dr. Zhabrev has authored a number of related patents and is spearheading the container project with SMWE.

The original design provides more reliable packing of radioactive waste, as well as substantial reduction (by approximate 100 times) of the corpuscular permeability of the container walls as compared to steel-concrete constructions.   Successfully tested prototypes of this container have been produced and a number of patents are in place for the container and materials.  In addition to ecological improvements, the use of metallurgical production waste (slags) instead of metals (lead, titanium, special types of steel) and ceramics, makes SMWE’s solution economically beneficial. The SMWE team is assessing further improvements to the container and its properties by the impregnation of nanodiamond fibers into the stone cast material.

The intended sol-gel method of binding the radioactive waste in a glass-like matrix achieves the fixing factor of more than 60%. Interaction of components in a liquid phase directly in the integrally cast glass-crystalline container ensures complete RAW mixing and binding.

The slag-stone container structure engineering factors are as follows: volume weight: 2.8-3.2 t/m3, ultimate compression strength: 150-550 MPa, bending and tensile strength: 15-45 MPa, water absorption: up to 0.2%, abradability: 0.2-1.2 kg/m2, heat resistance: up to 1100°C, frost resistance: not less than 300 Mrz, Moose hardness: 6-7.

SMW is exploring cooperative partnerships with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), World Nuclear Association (WNA), International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), AREVA NC (COGEMA), Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials (VNIINM) as supporters in the framework of this project.