Enhanced Chemical Cleaning: A New Process for Chemically Cleaning Savannah River Waste Tanks

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At the Savannah River Site (SRS) there are 49 High Level Waste (HLW) tanks that eventually must be emptied, cleaned, and closed. The current method of chemically cleaning SRS HLW tanks, commonly referred to as Bulk Oxalic Acid Cleaning (BOAC), requires about a half million liters (130,000 gallons) of 8 weight percent (wt%) oxalic acid to clean a single tank. During the cleaning, the oxalic acid acts as the solvent to digest sludge solids and insoluble salt solids, such that they can be suspended and pumped out of the tank. Because of the volume and concentration of acid used, a ... continued below

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Ketusky, Edward; Spires, Renee & Davis, Neil February 11, 2009.

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At the Savannah River Site (SRS) there are 49 High Level Waste (HLW) tanks that eventually must be emptied, cleaned, and closed. The current method of chemically cleaning SRS HLW tanks, commonly referred to as Bulk Oxalic Acid Cleaning (BOAC), requires about a half million liters (130,000 gallons) of 8 weight percent (wt%) oxalic acid to clean a single tank. During the cleaning, the oxalic acid acts as the solvent to digest sludge solids and insoluble salt solids, such that they can be suspended and pumped out of the tank. Because of the volume and concentration of acid used, a significant quantity of oxalate is added to the HLW process. This added oxalate significantly impacts downstream processing. In addition to the oxalate, the volume of liquid added competes for the limited available tank space. A search, therefore, was initiated for a new cleaning process. Using TRIZ (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch or roughly translated as the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving), Chemical Oxidation Reduction Decontamination with Ultraviolet Light (CORD-UV{reg_sign}), a mature technology used in the commercial nuclear power industry was identified as an alternate technology. Similar to BOAC, CORD-UV{reg_sign} also uses oxalic acid as the solvent to dissolve the metal (hydr)oxide solids. CORD-UV{reg_sign} is different, however, since it uses photo-oxidation (via peroxide/UV or ozone/UV to form hydroxyl radicals) to decompose the spent oxalate into carbon dioxide and water. Since the oxalate is decomposed and off-gassed, CORD-UV{reg_sign} would not have the negative downstream oxalate process impacts of BOAC. With the oxalate destruction occurring physically outside the HLW tank, re-precipitation and transfer of the solids, as well as regeneration of the cleaning solution can be performed without adding additional solids, or a significant volume of liquid to the process. With a draft of the pre-conceptual Enhanced Chemical Cleaning (ECC) flowsheet, taking full advantage of the many CORD-UV{reg_sign} benefits, performance demonstration testing was initiated using available SRS sludge simulant. The demonstration testing confirmed that ECC is a viable technology, as it can dissolve greater than 90% of the sludge simulant and destroy greater than 90% of the oxalates. Additional simulant and real waste testing are planned.

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  • Report No.: WSRC-STI-2008-00035
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 947195
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc896770

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  • February 11, 2009

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 5:52 p.m.

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Ketusky, Edward; Spires, Renee & Davis, Neil. Enhanced Chemical Cleaning: A New Process for Chemically Cleaning Savannah River Waste Tanks, article, February 11, 2009; Aiken, South Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc896770/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.