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DOE technology spurs new acid recycling company

July 30, 1993 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. – An award-winning recycling system that significantly reduces industrial waste disposal costs by cleaning spent acid for reuse is now available to private industry. The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory recently licensed the technology to Viatec Recovery Systems Inc.

Viatec, headquartered in Hastings, Michigan, has formed the new subsidiary company in Richland, Washington, near PNL, to design and manufacture on-site acid recycling systems for industrial and government operations. More than 15,000 U.S. companies produce an estimated one billion pounds of metal-bearing spent acid annually.

It currently costs between $1 and $5 a gallon to dispose of spent acids, and environmental regulations are limiting the availability of disposal sites that accept acid wastes.

The Viatec recycling system uses a combination of advanced materials, distillation and precipitation to isolate the heavy metals and clean the acid. PNL research shows more than 90 percent of the spent acid can be purified and reused, while the volume of waste requiring disposal can be minimized or even eliminated.

The waste acid recovery system can be used to meet specific environmental regulations while saving on disposal expense and the cost of purchasing new acid. "The savings mean that, in most cases, the system can actually pay for itself within one year," said Ken Kensington, chief executive officer of Viatec.

Viatec is the parent corporation of a group of companies that design, manufacture and service custom-built equipment for handling corrosive and contaminated liquids and gases.

"After 30 years of supplying corrosion-resistant piping, tanks and other equipment, Viatec has a proven manufacturing capability using advanced materials," said Evan Jones, PNL project manager. "With this background, PNL is confident that Viatec will be successful in making the acid recycling process available to companies that must reduce the cost of environmental compliance to stay competitive." PNL will assist Viatec in designing the systems.

A key part of DOE's mission is to transfer government-funded research and technology to the private sector. The waste acid recycling system was originally developed to recover acids from nuclear fuel fabrication and processing operations at DOE's Hanford Site, but its commercial potential quickly became evident. The technology also is currently being evaluated for a variety of applications at Hanford and other government operations.

The waste acid recycling system was named as one of the top 100 technological developments of 1991 by Research and Development Magazine and recently received a Federal Laboratory Consortium award for technology transfer.

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Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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