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Title: Direct experimental evidence for differing reactivity alterations of minerals following irradiation. The case of calcite and quartz

Concrete, used in the construction of nuclear power plants (NPPs), may be exposed to radiation emanating from the reactor core. Until recently, concrete has been assumed immune to radiation exposure. Direct evidence acquired on Ar+ -ion irradiated calcite and quartz indicates, on the contrary, that, such minerals, which constitute aggregates in concrete, may be significantly altered by irradiation. More specifically, while quartz undergoes disordering of its atomic structure resulting in a near complete lack of periodicity, calcite only experiences random rotations, and distortions of its carbonate groups. As a result, irradiated quartz shows a reduction in density of around 15%, and an increase in chemical reactivity, described by its dissolution rate, similar to a glassy silica. However, calcite shows little change in dissolution rate - although its density noted to reduce by 9%. These differences are correlated with the nature of bonds in these minerals, i.e., being dominantly ionic or covalent, and the rigidity of the mineral's atomic network that is characterized by the number of topological constraints (nc) that are imposed on the atoms in the network. Our outcomes have major implications on the durability of concrete structural elements formed with calcitic or quartzitic aggregates in nuclear power plants.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 22 GENERAL STUDIES OF NUCLEAR REACTORS concrete; radiation; amoprhization; swelling