Researcher Developing Novel System For Nuclear Waste Repositories


A Texas A&M professor, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received a Department of Energy grant to develop a system in engineered barriers to isolate and contain nuclear fuel waste.

Nuclear power plants have supplied about 20% of the United States’ annual electricity generation since 1990, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But that energy creates high-level radioactive waste that has to be stored.

Yong-Rak Kim, professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been awarded a U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Energy University Program grant to develop a novel system in engineered barriers to permanently isolate and contain nuclear fuel waste. Kim is collaborating with researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“We need to find a way to store nuclear fuel waste for a long time in a very safe manner. This is a huge challenge for many countries where nuclear power plants have been operated,” Kim said. “We need to find a better material that is less permeable and more resistant to cracking and chemical degradation than conventional materials in challenging geological environments.”

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