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Treatment and disposal of irradiated graphite and other carbonaceous waste

Activity Code: Fission-2007-6.0.01
Coordinator: Dr Werner von Lensa, Institute for Energy Research (IEF-6), Forschungszentrum Jülich


Gas-Cooled Reactors (GCR), RBMK and some Material Test Reactors (MTR) make use of graphite as moderator of the fuel, structures of the core and/or thermal columns. During operation, the graphite and other carbonaceous materials like carbon brick, pyrocarbon and silicon carbide coatings are contaminated by fission products and neutron activation. These irradiated carbonaceous wastes are problematic due to their content of long-lived radioisotopes (e.g. Carbon14, Chlorine 36) and due to their large volumes. About 250000 t of i-carbon are existing, worldwide.

Acceptable solutions have not yet been established to handle this kind of waste. This fact also represents a significant drawback for the market introduction of graphite-moderated reactors like Very/High-Temperature Reactors (V/HTR) as a promising Generation IV system candidate. Graphite moderated reactors represent the very first generation of nuclear reactors and therefore need to be decommissioned ahead of other reactor types which evolved later. Presently, accelerated decommissioning of GCR and RBMK and subsequent disposal of i-graphite is the preferred option for not leaving this waste as a legacy for future generations.

Project Details:

Start Date: 01.04.2008
End Date: 31.03.2012
EU Contribution: 6 Mio. Euro
Total Costs: 12.08 Mio. Euro
Funding Scheme: Collaborative project (generic)
Administrative Contact Person: Dr Klaus Hoppstock, k.hoppstock@fz-juelich.de
Scientific Coordinator:
Dr Werner von Lensa, w.von.lensa@fz-juelich.de
Project Website:


  • Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany
  • AMEC, United Kingdom
  • French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA), France
  • South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), South Africa
  • AREVA NP, France
  • Bradtec Decon Technologies Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Centro de Investigationes Energéticas Médioambientales y Tecnològicas (Ciemat), Spain
  • Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), France
  • Doosan Babcock, United Kingdom
  • Electricité de France (EDF), France
  • Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ens), France
  • Italian Commission for nuclear Energy (ENEA), Italy
  • The National Company for Radioactive Waste Limited Company, Spain
  • GrafTech Int Ltd (GTI), France
  • Institute of Physics (FI), Lithuania
  • Institute for Nuclear Research (INR), Romania
  • Institute of Nuclear physics of Lyon (IPNL), France
  • Joint Research Centre (JRC), Belgium
  • Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI), Lithuania
  • National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), United Kingdom
  • The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), United Kingdom
  • Nuclear Research and consultancy Group (NRG), Netherlands
  • The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, Belgium
  • SGL Group, Germany
  • Studsvik, Sweden
  • SUBATECH, France
  • The University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd (PBMR), South Africa