An Order-of-Magnitude Estimation of Benzene Concentration in Saltstone Vault

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The contents of Tank 48H that include the tetraphenylborate (TPB) precipitates of potassium and cesium will be grouted and stored in the Saltstone vault. The grouting process is exothermic, which should accelerate the rate of decomposition of TPB precipitates eventually to benzene. Because the vault is not currently outfitted with an active ventilation system, there is a concern that a mixture of flammable gases may form in the vapor space of each cell filled with the curing grout. The purpose of this study was to determine if passive breathing induced by the diurnal fluctuations of barometric pressure would provide any ... continued below

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CHOI, A March 20, 2006.

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The contents of Tank 48H that include the tetraphenylborate (TPB) precipitates of potassium and cesium will be grouted and stored in the Saltstone vault. The grouting process is exothermic, which should accelerate the rate of decomposition of TPB precipitates eventually to benzene. Because the vault is not currently outfitted with an active ventilation system, there is a concern that a mixture of flammable gases may form in the vapor space of each cell filled with the curing grout. The purpose of this study was to determine if passive breathing induced by the diurnal fluctuations of barometric pressure would provide any mitigating measure against potential flammability in the cell vapor space. In Revision 0 of this document, a set of algorithms were presented that would predict the equilibrium concentration of benzene in the cell vapor space as a function of benzene generation rate, fill height, and passive breathing rate. The algorithms were derived based on several simplifying assumptions so that order of magnitude estimates could be made quickly for scoping purposes. In particular, it was assumed that passive breathing would occur solely due to barometric pressure fluctuations that were sinusoidal; the resulting algorithm for estimating the rate of passive breathing into or out of each cell is given in Eq. (10). Since Revision 0 was issued, the validity of this critical assumption on the mode of passive breathing was checked against available passive ventilation data for the Hanford waste tanks. It was found that the passive breathing rates estimated from Eq. (10) were on average 50 to 90% lower than those measured for 5 out of 6 Hanford tanks considered in this study (see Table 1); for Tank U-106, the estimated passive breathing rates were on average 20% lower than the measured data. These results indicate that Eq. (10) would most likely under predict passive breathing rates of the Saltstone vault. At a given fill height and benzene generation rate, under predicted breathing rates would in turn make the benzene concentration projections in the cell vapor space conservatively high, thus rendering the overall flammability assessment conservative. The results of this validation effort are summarized in Section 2.4 of this revision. It is to be noted that all the algorithms, numerical results and conclusions made in Revision 0 remain valid. In this work, the algorithms for estimating the equilibrium benzene concentration for a given scenario were derived by combining the asymptotic solutions to the transient mass balance equations for the exhaling and inhaling modes in a 24-hour period. These algorithms were then applied to simulate several test cases, including the baseline case where the cell was filled to the maximum height of 25 ft at the bulk benzene generation rate of 3.4 g/hr.

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  • Report No.: WSRC-TR-2005-00071R1
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-96SR18500
  • DOI: 10.2172/890166 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 890166
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc874279

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  • March 20, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 2, 2016, 1 p.m.

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CHOI, A. An Order-of-Magnitude Estimation of Benzene Concentration in Saltstone Vault, report, March 20, 2006; [Aiken, South Carolina]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc874279/: accessed June 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.