Interactions of RuO4(g) with different surfaces in nuclear reactor containments
Joachim Holm, Henrik Glänneskog, Christian Ekberg
During a severe nuclear reactor accident with air ingress, ruthenium in the form of RuO4 can be released from the nuclear fuel. Hence, it is important to investigate how the reactor containment is able to reduce the source term of ruthenium.
This work has investigated the distribution of RuO4 between an aqueous and gaseous phase in the temperature interval of 20-50°C by on-line measurements with an experimental set-up made of glass. The experiments showed that RuO4 is almost immediately distributed in the aqueous phase after its introduction in the set-up in the entire temperature interval. However, the deposition of ruthenium on the glass surfaces in the system was significant. The speciation of the ruthenium on the glass surfaces was studied by SEM-EDX and ESCA and was determined to be the expected RuO2.
Experiments of interactions between gaseous ruthenium tetroxide and the metals aluminium, copper and zinc have been investigated. The metals were treated by RuO4 (g) at room temperature and analyzed with ESCA, SEM and XRD. The analyses show that the black ruthenium deposits on the metal surfaces were RuO2, i.e. the RuO4 (g) has been transformed on the metal surfaces to RuO2(s). The analyses showed also that there was a significant deposition of ruthenium tetroxide especially on the copper and zinc samples. Aluminium has a lower ability to deposit gaseous ruthenium tetroxide than the other metals.
The conclusion that can be made from the results is that surfaces in nuclear reactor containments will likely reduce the source term in the case of a severe accident in a nuclear power plant.