Keeping Waste Where It Belongs: Grain Size Explains How Spent Nuclear Fuel Enters the Environment

When compounds in spent nuclear fuel break down, they can release radioactive elements into the ground and water. Scientists know that one fuel compound, neptunium dioxide, reacts with water, but they do not fully understand the process. This new study found that neptunium tends to dissolve where grains of the material come together, and larger grains are less likely to dissolve.