February 2, 2022

Vitrification of Hanford Tank Wastes for Condensate Recycle and Feed Composition Changeover Testing


During the vitrification of Hanford Site nuclear waste at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), which is a part of the safe and efficient retrieval, treatment, and disposal mission of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection, the offgas condensate generated from the waste-to-glass conversion is currently planned to be concentrated by evaporation in the Effluent Management Facility (EMF). This concentrated condensate can then be recycled back to the incoming waste and vitrified. To test the recycle process, an apparatus was designed and built to mimic the EMF evaporator and was then used to concentrate a volume of condensate produced during the vitrification of a sample of Hanford tank 241-AP-107 (referred to herein as AP-107) waste in a continuous laboratory-scale melter (CLSM). The concentrated condensate was added to an additional sample of AP-107 waste, to mimic one round of the recycle process, and the combined solution was vitrified, producing a second round of recycle condensate. In the current study, the EMF test apparatus was used to concentrate the second-round recycle condensate under evaporation conditions (at 45 °C and 1.4 psia) designed to emulate EMF operation. The condensate was successfully concentrated by a factor of ~10 while retaining over 95 % of the technetium-99 (99Tc), Cs, and I inventories in the concentrate. Another portion of AP-107 waste was retrieved by Washington River Protection Solutions, LLC (WRPS) and transferred to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), where it was pretreated and then combined with the second-round recycle AP-107 condensate concentrate and glass-forming chemicals (GFCs) to form the two-time recycle AP-107 melter feed, approximating a second round to the recycling action to be performed at the WTP. A portion of AP-105 waste was also retrieved by WRPS and provided to PNNL for pretreatment and combining with GFCs to form AP-105 melter feed. The two-time recycle AP-107 and AP-105 melter feeds were processed consecutively in the CLSM. The CLSM run proceeded for 13.63 hours, producing 9.70 kg of glass for an average glass production rate of 1464 kg m¬2 d 1 during the two-time recycle AP-107 feed charging and 1568 kg m¬2 d 1 during the AP-105 feed charging. The rate during AP-107 charging was essentially equivalent to the rate when processing no-recycle AP-107 feed and lower than that achieved when processing one-time recycle AP-107 feed. However, all rates were within the potential range of variability when processing melter feeds with similar composition in the CLSM. Likewise, the rate during AP-105 charging was higher than the previous rate processing AP-105, but within the potential CLSM range. The cold-cap characteristics changed from the typically thin AP-107 cold cap to a foamy-edged cold cap as previously seen with AP-105 shortly after transitioning to the AP-105 melter feed. The glass produced during the CLSM run was within 10 % of its target composition for the primary glass components. The CaO and Li2O targets varied by more than 1 wt% between the two-time recycle AP-107 and AP-105 glass targets and it took about 2 turnovers of the CLSM glass inventory to reach a relative chemical steady state in the glass for CaO and Li2O after the melter feed inputs were switched. The 99Tc and total cesium content in the melter feeds were maintained at concentrations expected to be experienced at the WTP. During the CLSM run, while processing the two-time recycle AP-107 melter feed at a relative chemical steady state, the 99Tc/Cs ratio was 10, and 34% of 99Tc and 74% of Cs were retained in the glass. These values were higher than those measured in the CLSM run with one-time recycle AP-107 melter feed. After the transition to processing the AP-105 melter feed, when the production reached a relative chemical steady state, the 99Tc/Cs ratio was 77 while 44% of 99Tc was retained in the glass.

Published: February 2, 2022


Dixon D.R., A.M. Westesen, M.A. Hall, C.M. Stewart, J.B. Lang, D.A. Cutforth, and W.C. Eaton, et al. 2021. Vitrification of Hanford Tank Wastes for Condensate Recycle and Feed Composition Changeover Testing Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.