NE Seminar: “The Back-end of the US Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Radiochemistry Research to Support Safe Disposal of Nuclear Waste”

Date(s) - 10/27/2022
1:55 pm - 2:55 pm

Rhines Hall 125


Mavrik Zavarin, Ph.D.

Director, Glenn T. Seaborg Institute
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Dr. Mavrik Zavarin received his BS in chemistry and PhD in Soil Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He has spent much of his career at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory studying actinide environmental chemistry. He is currently the director of the Glenn T. Seaborg Institute, manages an active research group of postdocs and graduate students, and has published over 70 papers. His research has focused on experimental and modeling efforts to understand and simulate the transport behavior of radionuclides in the environment, with a particular focus on actinides. He recently spent a sabbatical at the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf (Germany) where he initiated a long-term collaboration combining the application of data science with radionuclide reactive transport modeling. As the Seaborg Institute director, he hosts an annual student summer internship program and promotes collaborative research between LLNL and the academic community in radiochemistry and nuclear forensics. In addition, Dr. Zavarin, on occasion, teaches introductory chemistry at Las Positas Community College. 


The production of radioactive materials in nuclear reactors has profoundly changed the radiologic composition of the planet. For example, the inventory of nuclear waste in the United States is quickly approaching 100,000 metric tons of heavy metal (MTHM). The global presence of this anthropogenic radioactivity is the clearest signature of recent human activity on our planet. This has led geologists to consider ending the Holocene epoch in geologic time and designating a new ‘Anthropocene’ epoch that coincides with the start of the atomic age.

Developing safe disposal options for nuclear waste will be critical in the coming decades. Predicting the risks of radioactivity to human health and the environment will require a detailed understanding of its behavior in aquatic systems, reactions at mineral/water interfaces, and interaction with microbes.

In this talk, we will discuss US efforts to support research into the safe disposal of nuclear waste and the unique challenges to predicting the behavior of radioactive materials in earth systems on the scale of thousands of years.