Metallurgy and corrosion expert David Duquette, the John Tod Horton Distinguished Professor of Materials Engineering at Rensselaer, was last month reappointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB).
First appointed to the NWTRB in 2002, Duquette provides guidance and advice on the integrity of the nuclear waste containers in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the only national repository for permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
The container and its contents are part of the Engineered Barrier System, a series of man-made structures within the mountain which, in conjunction with natural barriers, are meant to minimize over time the amount of radioactive material that can escape the repository.
“With the current worldwide energy crisis, and the possible advent of a new generation of nuclear power stations, the permanent disposal of the nation’s spent fuel is paramount,” Duquette said. “The role of the board is to ensure that the science and technology required to safely package, transport, and emplace nuclear waste in deep geological repository is sufficiently mature to guarantee that radiation generated by the waste will never present a burden to future generations.”
Because nuclear waste material will continue to be radioactive for more than 10,000 years, Duquette said the board must carefully consider and examine different materials with which to construct and fortify the barrier system.
A world leader in the fields of corrosion, electrochemical phenomena, and processing, Duquette has recently expanded his research interests to work on the challenge of on-chip interconnect technology for semiconductor applications. He joined the Rensselaer faculty in 1970.
Created in 1987, the NWTRB advises the Secretary of Energy, Congress, and the White House on sound science policies regarding the disposal, packaging, storing, and transportation of high-level nuclear waste. The board’s members are recommended to the White House by the National Academy of Sciences, and are not politically appointed.
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