In order to assess the consequences of a glove box fire occurring in a nuclear facility, it is important to gather information on the source term, the amount of radioactive material that can be emitted to the environment. The objective is to identify the different phenomena contributing to the release of radioactive particles from the surface of glove box materials undergoing pyrolysis.
Two materials (alumina and tungsten carbide) were chosen as possible surrogates of the considered radioactive material, which is plutonium dioxide. Two experimental facilities were designed to generate deposit on PMMA plates and burn them. Several small-scale experiments were also conducted to obtain knowledge of the phenomenon causing the release or trapping of the particles. Material density was found to have a direct impact on the release of particles, while particle size distribution had an impact only for fast thermal degradation (corresponding to high external heat flux). The reason is the strong interaction between the particles and the air flow close to the sample surface, which has been observed experimentally.
A theoretical model of the process was constructed: it was able to reproduce the experimental results, albeit partially. Improvements can be made, especially on the modelling of the trapping of particle by the polymer matrix. This study could help in understanding the issue of nanoparticle emission from burning nanomaterials.