High Density Concrete Nuclear Waste Containers

Romein Beton produces high density nuclear waste containers for over 20 years and has been using the LKAB Minerals’ MagnaDense for these since the start.

Situated in Dodewaard, The Netherlands, in the same town where the first Dutch Nuclear Power Plant was constructed, Romein Beton, a concrete products manufacturing site, produces containers for storing radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

Nuclear waste container standard design

The end client uses the round 1000-litre concrete containers for packaging radioactive waste. The containers, which are a jacket, contain a 200-litre steel barrel, in which the radioactive waste after it has been mixed with cement, is stored as a solid matter.

You can manufacture nuclear waste containers from regular concrete or high density concrete and have the same measurement; however, a different density and therefore, weight. Depending on the remaining level of radiation and the number of items in the container, they will use either the normal or the high density container.

When MagnaDense, our natural iron ore is used as aggregate, the shielding is improved considerably. As a result, nuclear waste storage plant needs fewer containers.

High density concrete container design

Because stringent requirements are placed upon the exposure rates from a concrete container when being transported and stored, the quantity of radioactive material that it can contain depends to a high degree on the level of shielding.  For the given dimensions of the container, the level of shielding can be increased by using heavy concrete.

In cooperation with the nuclear power plant GKN, a heavy concrete container was developed and tested by KEMA (the Dutch testing and consultancy company for energy, environment and quality). As the total weight of the containers cannot exceed 3000 kg, due to the allowable floor loading of the COVRA storage building, a type of concrete has been chosen with a density of 3300 kg/m3. This has resulted in a container that can contain three times more radioactivity than a container made of standard concrete.

High density concrete production process

Romein Beton tested the manufacturing process for this heavy concrete container. Erwin Aertssen is the concrete specialist for BTE group (of which Romein Beton is a part) and is responsible for checking and approving the concrete used for the nuclear waste containers. Erwin confirms, “The concrete recipe for this container has been ‘designed’  by Dutch TNO (organisation for Applied Scientific Research). Due to the strict regulations regarding nuclear waste, the container design and specification of the concrete recipe has not changed during all these years. The fact that the MagnaDense supplied is of high and constant quality is therefore extra valuable.”

Drop tests for nuclear waste containers

In addition to creating a heavy concrete that shields the waste, the containers require that it needs to be reliable, to withstand certain drops. Containers produced at Romein Beton are exclusively designed for storage by COVRA (Dutch Central Organisation for Transport and Storage of Radioactive Waste). All containers used for nuclear waste shielding have to be resistant to the prescribed drop tests from a height of 1.50 m. The KEMA consultant company, also involved in the development of the design, was also responsible for conducting these tests.

Based on the results of both the concrete and the drop tests, COVRA approved the containers, which Romein Beton then took into production. They handle these particular high density concrete containers with the same equipment as for the containers made with standard concrete.

Future for nuclear waste storage

“COVRA stores the nuclear waste in The Netherlands. This waste does not only come from the nuclear power plant we have in our country. But the medical and research industry also brings their waste to COVRA for storage,” Jörgen Hermsen, Commercial Manager for Romein Beton, tells us. He continues, “We, therefore, see a continuous need for this type of container in the long term.”

Radiation shielding with MagnaDense concrete

For over 50 years LKAB Minerals have been supplying MagnaDense for radiation shielding and together with their partners have completed hundreds of projects for nuclear, research and healthcare facilities.

We realise that each project and its specification is different, as is the experience of the contractors and mixing companies. Due to our expertise in radiation shielding applications and the knowledge of concrete pumpability and mixes, LKAB Minerals can help our customers by selecting the right aggregate mixture for the dense concrete. Radiation shielding projects are a backbone application for our company, and we continue to invest in our products and market knowledge to ensure a continued high-quality service offered to this industry.

MagnaDense, a natural high density solution

The natural iron ore material MagnaDense is suitable as an aggregate and as a loose ballast for some applications. MagnaDense is an ideal aggregate for producing heavy concrete because it is available in different fractions. The specific gravity for the grades ranges between 4.7 and 5.2 t/m³.

MagnaDense has CE certification and approval according to EN12620. It has a long history of use as a construction material and apart from its weight, shows similar characteristics to those of standard density concrete. You can place MagnaDense concrete by skip or pump.

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