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Report No.
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Managing beryllium in nuclear facility applications

Longhurst, G. R.*; Tsuchiya, Kunihiko; Dorn, C.*; Folkman, S. L.*; Fronk, T. H.*; Ishihara, Masahiro; Kawamura, Hiroshi; Tranter, T. N.*; Rohe, R.*; Uchida, Munenori*; Vidal, E.*

Beryllium has important roles in nuclear facilities such as fission reactors and fusion reactors. Its neutron multiplication capability and low atomic weight make it very useful as a reflector in fission reactors. In both applications, the beryllium and the impurities in it become activated by neutrons transmutating to radionuclides, some of which are long-lived and difficult to dispose of. Also, gas production, notably helium and tritium, results in swelling, embrittlement, and cracking, which means that the beryllium must be replaced periodically, especially in fission reactors where dimensional tolerances must be maintained. It has long been known that neutron activation of inherent iron and cobalt in the beryllium results in significant $$^{60}$$Co activity. In 2001, it was discovered that activation of naturally occurring contaminants in the beryllium creates sufficient $$^{14}$$C and $$^{94}$$Nb to render the irradiated beryllium "Greater-Than-Class-C" for disposal in US radioactive waste facilities. In this paper we review the extent of the disposal issue, processes that have been investigated or considered for improving the disposability of irradiated beryllium, and approaches for recycling.

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