Interfacial Dynamics in Radiation Environments and Materials (IDREAM)
The Interfacial Dynamics in Radiation Environments and Materials (IDREAM) Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) is a national resource sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) focused on new knowledge that will fuel innovation in the treatment of the nation's high level radioactive wastes. Innovation is needed to accelerate the processing of wastes that have been stored in large underground tanks for decades.
To address this environmental challenge, DOE must process millions of gallons of highly radioactive wastes that have been aging in a radiation environment for decades. At the Hanford site in particular, waste characteristics vary significantly from tank to tank, and within a tank, the materials are highly stratified. The behavior of these materials during removal and processing can sometimes defy prediction. Consequently, processing plans and flow sheets are limited to narrow conditions that are slow and costly.
IDREAM seeks to fill knowledge gaps in molecular speciation, interfacial structure and reactivity, and particle interactions under the harsh chemical conditions that are relevant to the waste tanks. This includes extremely high alkalinity, high concentrations of electrolytes, and ionizing radiation. Science challenges include:
- Discovering the chemical and physical phenomena that drive the dissolution, nucleation, and precipitation of solid phases under these extreme conditions
- Exploiting these phenomena to control and accelerate the removal and processing of materials in complex environments that include limited water activity, concentrated electrolytes, and ionizing radiation.
IDREAM's approach will be focused on four main research goals addressing challenges at the molecular, aggregate, and interfacial scales. Additionally, cross-cutting computational activities will support integration across scales.
Addressing these science questions enables innovation in various energy sectors.
- Environmental Management: Expand operating envelopes for radioactive waste processing and predict long-term material aging in radiation environments
- Nuclear Energy: Predictive understanding to design new, radiation-resistant or radiation-tuned materials for nuclear energy systems