Moisture absorption results for vertical calciner plutonium dioxide product Page: 4 of 6
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The tested sample was the third of 3 samples removed from the first batch of vertical calciner
product. Sample 3736 was removed from near the bottom of the product collection pot, which means
it consisted of some of the very first product to exit the calciner. This initial product was a mixture
of freshly calcined PuO2 and PuO2 obtained from PFP Operations after stabilization in the scrap
stabilization furnaces for use as the calciner starter bed (the extent of mixing can not be determined).
The starter bed and initial calcined product had spent weeks inside the calciner chamber occasionally
heated, but always exposed to room air. The valve between the product and the calciner chamber
was left open during the 3-day period between the last calciner run and the time of sampling. Sample
3736 had a net weight of 81.42 gm solids with a calculated Pu content of 60.9 gm. The sample vial
was closed tightly after weighing and left closed until transferred to Glovebox 179-12 for these
The sample was opened inside Glovebox 179-12 and left open to the room atmosphere flowing
through the glovebox for 7 days. The sample was weighed daily except during the weekend.
The following weights were obtained for Sample 3736 and recorded in the laboratory notebook
(Reference 1). Other observations of the weight were made on other days but not recorded in the
notebook. The listed weights are gross weights of the sample and vial with its lid.
Date Weight (grams)
March 26, 1996 100.04
March 27 100.04
April 1 100.07
The maximum weight gain of 0.03 gm during the 7 days is a weight increase of 0.037 percent
compared to the starting net weight of 81.42 gm of solids. More importantly, there was no
recordable weight gain during the first day of exposure. While not recorded in the laboratory
notebook, those performing the weighings indicated that the weight changed up and down from day to
day and that it returned to 100.04 at the completion of one week (Reference 2). Two possible
explanations for the random weight variances are (1) random error in the balance and (2) reaction to
changing absolute humidity in the room air over time (i.e., the saturation moisture content is affected
by the surrounding absolute humidity).
The product from the calciner is expected to be packaged for storage within a few hours of its
generation and it will be very warm for a good portion of the intervening time. An intervening
period of a few days would be expected only in case of long-term emergency evacuations. Regardless
of the time between generation and packaging, unsuitable product can be recycled into the calciner for
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Compton, J.A., Westinghouse Hanford. Moisture absorption results for vertical calciner plutonium dioxide product, report, July 3, 1996; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc706437/m1/4/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.