Monthly Archives: May 2000

May 1, 2000

Long-term safety of concrete for holding nuclear waste is focus of MIT study

Small cylinders of cement rolling to and fro in a gently rocking bath are key to MIT work that could aid efforts to safely contain nuclear waste. Temporary measures for storing such waste already employ cement, a material that binds together small particles to make concrete. Concrete, in turn, is used to encase steel containers holding the waste. For permanent storage, however, researchers would like to be able to predict how the concrete — specifically, the cement that makes it strong — will weather over hundreds of years.

Enter the MIT work. Engineers led by Franz-Josef Ulm, the Gilbert T. Winslow Career Development Associate Professor of civil and environmental engineering, have created a laboratory test that allows them to observe in one day what nature takes 300 years to accomplish. This accelerates concrete aging by a factor of three over what other researchers have achieved.

His coauthors are Franz H. Heukamp (former Hugh Hampton Young scholar), a graduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and Dr. John T. Germaine, a CEE principal research associate. Two other key members of the team are Dr. Marc Mainguy, a CEE postdoctoral associate, and Jennifer Burtz, a CEE junior working on the project through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Read the rest of the article on MIT News.