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Growth of micrometric oxide layers to explore laser decontamination of metallic surfaces

Abstract : The nuclear industry produces a wide range of radioactive waste in terms of hazard level, contaminants and material. For metallic equipment like steam generators, the radioactivity is mainly located in the oxide surface. In order to study and develop safe techniques for dismantling and for decontamination, it is important to have access to oxide layers with a representative distribution of non-radioactive contaminants. In this paper we propose a method for the creation of oxide layers on stainless steel 304L with europium (Eu) as contaminant. This technique consists in spraying an Eu-solution on stainless steel samples. The specimens are firstly treated with a pulsed nanosecond laser after which the steel samples are placed in a 873 K furnace for various durations in order to grow an oxide layer. The oxide structure and in-depth distribution of Eu in the oxide layer were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy coupled to an energy-dispersive X-ray microanalyzer, as well as by glow discharge optical emission or mass spectrometry. The oxide layers were grown to thicknesses in the range of 200 nm–4.5 $\mu$m depending on the laser treatment parameters and the heating duration. These contaminated oxides had a ‘duplex structure’ with a mean concentration of the order of 6 × 10$^{16}$ atoms/cm$^2$ (15 $\mu$g/cm$^2$) of europium in the volume of the oxide layer. It appears that europium implementation prevented the oxide growth in the furnace. Nevertheless, the presence of the contamination had no impact on the thickness of the oxide layers obtained by preliminary laser treatment. These oxide layers were used to study the decontamination of metallic surfaces such as stainless steel 304L using a nanosecond pulsed laser.
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Luisa Carvalho, Wilfried Pacquentin, Michel Tabarant, Hicham Maskrot, Alexandre Semerok. Growth of micrometric oxide layers to explore laser decontamination of metallic surfaces. EPJ N - Nuclear Sciences & Technologies, EDP Sciences, 2017, 3, pp.30. ⟨10.1051/epjn/2017027⟩. ⟨cea-01794084⟩

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