Technetium-99m transport and immobilisation in porous media: Development of a novel nuclear imaging technique

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Corkhill, C.L. ; Gardner, L.J. ; Hyatt, N.C. ; Bridge, J.W. ; Banwart, S.A. ; Hillel, P. (2013)
  • Publisher: Materials Research Society

Technetium-99, a β-emitting radioactive fission product of U, formed in nuclear reactors, presents a major challenge to nuclear waste disposal strategies. Its long half-life (2.1 × 10 years) and high solubility under oxic conditions as the pertechnetate anion [Tc(VII)O] is particularly problematic for long-term disposal of radioactive waste in geological repositories. In this study, we demonstrate a novel technique for quantifying the transport and immobilisation of technetium-99m, a γ-emitting metastable isomer of technetium-99 commonly used in medical imaging. A standard medical gamma camera was used for non-invasive quantitative imaging of technetium-99m during co-advection through quartz sand and various cementitious materials commonly used in nuclear waste disposal strategies. Spatial moments analysis of the resulting Tc plume provided information about the relative changes in mass distribution of the radionuclide in the various test materials. Tc advected through quartz sand demonstrated typical conservative behaviour, while transport through the cementitious materials produced a significant reduction in radionuclide centre of mass transport velocity over time. Gamma camera imaging has proven an effective tool for helping to understand the factors which control the migration of radionuclides for surface, near-surface and deep geological disposal of nuclear waste. © 2013 Materials Research Society.
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