Nuclear materials science
Research conducted under the Nuclear Materials Science programme builds on the capability of engineering materials and processes for the nuclear fuel cycle.
The development of nuclear materials is focussed on activities which can deliver benefits towards future environmentally sustainable energy production and to the application of our expertise in other areas to support Australian industry and its environmental challenges.
Research conducted within this research programme fall into three areas:
- Nuclear waste forms
- Separation science
- Engineering nano-scale materials
I. Separation Science
Reducing the volume of radioactive waste is particularly important to all stakeholders within the nuclear industry from both an environmental and economic perspective. Researchers within this theme are developing methods for the preparation of novel adsorbent materials which can be deployed within the nuclear fuel cycle. A key platform for liquid-solid separation has been the development of bead materials tailored with hierarchical porosity. These materials are used in column based separation techniques. Figure 1 shows a cross-sectional view of the porous bead prepared by sol-gel templating methods.
II. Nuclear waste forms
Building on both expertise and capabilities within the institute, a new research group has been assembled to explore Nuclear Waste forms in Gen IV systems. This group is undertaking research engaged in the management of growing plutonium and minor actinide inventories generated in the fuel cycle by focussing on two concepts: Inert Matrix Fuels (IMFs) and advanced nuclear waste forms. Inert matrix fuels (refractory, non-fertile systems) are being investigated as ‘once through’ materials to burn long lived actinides in advanced fission reactors and NZP-structure type and pyrochlore ceramics have been identified as potential candidate inert matrices.
III. Engineering nano-scale materials
Establishing a relationship between atomic-scale structure and its function is an important topic in the field of materials science. Activities conducted under this research theme are focussed on understanding the performance of nano-scale materials subject when subjected to extreme environments. The impact of this research is being exploited through sponsored research programs with the CRC for Polymers III and the DMTC.
Gerry Triani, Programme Leader
Phone: +61 2 9717 9070