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Radioactive Waste Evaporation: Current Methodologies Employed for the Development, Design and Operation of Waste Evaporators at the Savannah River Site and Hanford Waste Treatment Plant

[+] Author Affiliations
T. Bond Calloway, Jr., Christopher J. Martino, Carol M. Jantzen, William R. Wilmarth, Michael E. Stone, Robert A. Pierce, Jamal E. Josephs, Carl D. Barnes, William E. Daniel, Russell E. Eibling, Alexander S. Choi, Thomas L. White, David A. Crowley, Mark A. Baich

Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Aiken, SC

Jermaine D. Johnson, Krishna Vijayaraghavan, Alex Nikolov, Darsh T. Wasan

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL

Paper No. ICEM2003-4515, pp. 157-170; 14 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2003-4515
From:
  • ASME 2003 9th International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
  • 9th ASME International Conference on Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Remediation: Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Oxford, England, September 21–25, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3732-7 | eISBN: 0-7918-3731-9
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME

abstract

Evaporation of High Level and Low Activity (HLW & LAW) radioactive wastes for the purposes of radionuclide separation and volume reduction has been conducted at the Savannah River and Hanford Sites for more than forty years. Additionally, the Savannah River Site (SRS) has used evaporators in preparing HLW for immobilization into a borosilicate glass matrix. The Hanford River Protection Project (RPP) is in the process of building the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment facility, Waste Treatment Plant (WTP), which will use evaporators to concentrate the liquid waste and plant recycles prior to immobilization into a borosilicate glass matrix. Radioactive waste is evaporated at each site using various evaporator designs (e.g., forced circulation, horizontal bent tube). While the equipment used to evaporate radioactive waste is relatively simple in design, the complexity in the evaporator processes in current service and in those currently in the design stages stems from the heterogeneous nature of the waste and the effects of seemingly minor components (e.g., Si) on the process. Aqueous electrolyte thermodynamic modeling and experiments have been conducted by the SRS Savannah River Technology Center (SRTC) in support of the SRS HLW and Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) Evaporators and the Hanford RPP WTP. After 40 years of successful operation, accumulation of two solid phases (a nitrated aluminosilicate, Na8 AL6 Si6 O24 (NO3 )2 •4H2 O and sodium diuranate, Na2 U2 O7 ) developed as an insoluble phase in the Savannah River Site (SRS) 2H evaporator in 1996. The aluminosilicate scale deposit caused the SRS 2-H evaporator to become completely inoperable by October 1999. Accumulation of the sodium diuranate phase on the aluminosilicate scale has caused criticality concerns. Modeling and experiments were conducted to develop a method to control the process chemistry in order to prevent the formation of aluminosilicate deposits in the future. The lessons learned from the development, design, and operation of the SRS waste treatment facilities and the currently operating 242-A Hanford HLW evaporators were applied by SRTC in support of the development and design of the Hanford WTP evaporators. Thermodynamic equilibrium modeling along with solubility and physical property experiments are being conducted to develop process control and flow sheet models. Additionally, lessons learned from the development of an advanced antifoam agent for the SRS vitrification process evaporators are being applied to the testing and development of an antifoam agent for the Hanford WTP evaporators. This paper will discuss the methodologies, results, and achievements of the SRTC evaporator development program that was conducted in support of the SRS and Hanford WTP evaporator processes. The “cross-pollination” and application of waste treatment technologies and methods between the Savannah River and Hanford Sites will be highlighted. The “cross-pollination” of technologies and methods is expected to benefit the Department of Energy’s Mission Acceleration efforts by reducing the overall cost and time for the development of the baseline waste treatment processes.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME

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