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Lessons Learned Siting and Successfully Processing U.S. DOE Radioactive Wastes Using a High Throughput Vitrification Process

[+] Author Affiliations
Robert E. Prince, Bradley W. Bowan, II

Duratek, Inc., Columbia, MD

Paper No. ICEM2003-4836, pp. 1593-1598; 6 pages
  • 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


This paper describes actual experience applying a technology to achieve volume reduction while producing a stable waste form for low and intermediate level liquid (L/ILW) wastes, and the L/ILW fraction produced from pre-processing of high level wastes. The chief process addressed will be vitrification. The joule-heated ceramic melter vitrification process has been used successfully on a number of waste streams produced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This paper will address lessons learned in achieving dramatic improvements in process throughput, based on actual pilot and full-scale waste processing experience. Since 1991, Duratek, Inc., and its long-term research partner, the Vitreous State Laboratory of The Catholic University of America, have worked to continuously improve joule heated ceramic melter vitrification technology in support of waste stabilization and disposition in the United States. From 1993 to 1998, under contact to the DOE, the team designed, built, and operated a joule-heated melter (the DuraMelterTM ) to process liquid mixed (hazardous/low activity) waste material at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. This melter produced 1,000,000 kilograms of vitrified waste, achieving a volume reduction of approximately 70 percent and ultimately producing a waste form that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delisted for its hazardous classification. The team built upon its SRS M Area experience to produce state-of-the-art melter technology that will be used at the DOE’s Hanford site in Richland, Washington. Since 1998, the DuraMelterTM has been the reference vitrification technology for processing both the high level waste (HLW) and low activity waste (LAW) fractions of liquid HLW waste from the U.S. DOE’s Hanford site. Process innovations have doubled the throughput and enhanced the ability to handle problem constituents in LAW. This paper provides lessons learned from the operation and testing of two facilities that provide the technology for a vitrification system that will be used in the stabilization of the low level fraction of Hanford’s high level tank wastes.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME



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