The effect of high dose rate gamma irradiation on the curing of CaO-FexOy-SiO2 slag based inorganic polymers: Mechanical and microstructural analysis

Mast, Bram; Cambriani, Andrea; Douvalis, Alexios P.; Pontikes, Yiannis; Schroeyers, Wouter; Vandoren, Bram; Schreurs, Sonja

Journal of Nuclear Materials 539 (2020)

In search for alternative cementitious materials for radioactive waste encapsulation, geopolymers and inorganic polymers (IPs) have received wide attention. Moreover, Fe-rich IPs offer an interesting alternative to high density concretes for use in radiation shielding applications. Materials can however be altered when subjected to ionizing radiation, creating the necessity to evaluate the material’s behaviour under irradiation conditions. In this study the effect of high dose rate (8.85 kGy/h) gamma irradiation is investigated on CaO-FexOy-SiO2 slag-based IPs. Samples with different curing times (1 h, 24 h and 28 days) prior to the irradiation were irradiated to a dose of 200 kGy using a60Co source. The effect of gamma radiation is observed to be highly dependent on the curing time prior to irradiation. 28 days cured samples are found to be resistant to the irradiation for the dose (rate) and properties tested without any significant change in strength, indentation characteristics, porosity and Fe3+ content. The IPs studied show a different behaviour when irradiated immediately after casting or after 24 h of curing. It is therefore thought that the mechanism behind the effect of irradiation is different for the non-hardened samples compared to hardened samples. For the 1 h cured samples prior to irradiation multiple effects were observed: an increase of the compressive strength by a factor 2.20, a decrease in hardness of the binder by a factor of 0.73, a lower Young’s-modulus of the binder by a factor of 0.67, a decrease of creep in time for the binder by a factor of 0.72, a decrease in porosity by a factor of 0.92 and an increase of the Fe3+/ΣFe ratio by a factor of 1.95.