NITRATE DESTRUCTION LITERATURE SURVEY AND EVALUATION CRITERIA

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This report satisfies the initial phase of Task WP-2.3.4 Alternative Sodium Recovery Technology, Subtask 1; Develop Near-Tank Nitrate/Nitrite Destruction Technology. Some of the more common anions in carbon steel waste tanks at SRS and Hanford Site are nitrate which is corrosive, and nitrite and hydroxide which are corrosion inhibitors. At present it is necessary to periodically add large quantities of 50 wt% caustic to waste tanks. There are three primary reasons for this addition. First, when the contents of salt tanks are dissolved, sodium hydroxide preferentially dissolves and is removed. During the dissolution process the concentration of free hydroxide in ... continued below

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Steimke, J. February 1, 2011.

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This report satisfies the initial phase of Task WP-2.3.4 Alternative Sodium Recovery Technology, Subtask 1; Develop Near-Tank Nitrate/Nitrite Destruction Technology. Some of the more common anions in carbon steel waste tanks at SRS and Hanford Site are nitrate which is corrosive, and nitrite and hydroxide which are corrosion inhibitors. At present it is necessary to periodically add large quantities of 50 wt% caustic to waste tanks. There are three primary reasons for this addition. First, when the contents of salt tanks are dissolved, sodium hydroxide preferentially dissolves and is removed. During the dissolution process the concentration of free hydroxide in the tank liquid can decrease from 9 M to less than 0.2 M. As a result, roughly half way through the dissolution process large quantities of sodium hydroxide must be added to the tank to comply with requirements for corrosion control. Second, hydroxide is continuously consumed by reaction with carbon dioxide which occurs naturally in purge air used to prevent buildup of hydrogen gas inside the tanks. The hydrogen is generated by radiolysis of water. Third, increasing the concentration of hydroxide increases solubility of some aluminum compounds, which is desirable in processing waste. A process that converts nitrate and nitrite to hydroxide would reduce certain costs. (1) Less caustic would be purchased. (2) Some of the aluminum solid compounds in the waste tanks would become more soluble so less mass of solids would be sent to High Level Vitrification and therefore it would be not be necessary to make as much expensive high level vitrified product. (3) Less mass of sodium would be fed to Saltstone at SRS or Low Level Vitrification at Hanford Site so it would not be necessary to make as much low level product. (4) At SRS less nitrite and nitrate would be sent to Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) so less formic acid would be consumed there and less hydrogen gas would be generated. This task involves literature survey of technologies to perform the nitrate to hydroxide conversion, selection of the most promising technologies, preparation of a flowsheet and design of a system. The most promising technologies are electrochemical reduction of nitrates and chemical reduction with hydrogen or ammonia. The primary reviewed technologies are listed and they aredescribed in more detail later in the report: (1) Electrochemical destruction; (2) Chemical reduction with agents such as ammonia, hydrazine or hydrogen; (3) Hydrothermal reduction process; and (4) Calcination. Only three of the technologies on the list have been demonstrated to generate usable amounts of caustic; electrochemical reduction and chemical reduction with ammonia, hydrazine or hydrogen and hydrothermal reduction. Chemical reduction with an organic reactant such as formic acid generates carbon dioxide which reacts with caustic and is thus counterproductive. Treatment of nitrate with aluminum or other active metals generates a solid product. High temperature calcination has the potential to generate sodium oxide which may be hydrated to sodium hydroxide, but this is unproven. The following criteria were developed to evaluate the most suitable option. The numbers in brackets after the criteria are relative weighting factors to account for importance: (1) Personnel exposure to radiation for installation, routine operation and maintenance; (2) Non-radioactive safety issues; (3) Whether the technology generates caustic and how many moles of caustic are generated per mole of nitrate plus nitrite decomposed; (4) Whether the technology can handle nitrate and nitrite at the concentrations encountered in waste; (5) Maturity of technology; (6) Estimated annual cost of operation (labor, depreciation, materials, utilities); (7) Capital cost; (8) Selectivity to nitrogen as decomposition product (other products are flammable and/or toxic); (9) Impact of introduced species; (10) Selectivity for destruction of nitrate vs. nitrite; and (11) Cost of deactivation and demolition. Each technology was given a score from one to five, five being most desirable, in each criterion. The results for the evaluation, in order from most to least promising was, Electrochemical, Chemical Reduction, Hydrothermal and Calcining. Another report [Steimke and Steeper, 2011] contains a flowsheet and design of an in-tank Electrochemical unit.

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  • Report No.: SRNL-STI-2010-00565
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • DOI: 10.2172/1013046 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1013046
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc841562

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  • February 1, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 4:21 p.m.

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Steimke, J. NITRATE DESTRUCTION LITERATURE SURVEY AND EVALUATION CRITERIA, report, February 1, 2011; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc841562/: accessed April 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.