DWPF CATALYTIC HYDROGEN GENERATION PROGRAM - REVIEW OF CURRENT STATUS

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Significant progress has been made in the past two years in improving the understanding of acid consumption and catalytic hydrogen generation during the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) processing of waste sludges in the Sludge Receipt and Adjustment Tank (SRAT) and Slurry Mix Evaporator (SME). This report reviews issues listed in prior internal reviews, describes progress with respect to the recommendations made by the December 2006 external review panel, and presents a summary of the current understanding of catalytic hydrogen generation in the DWPF Chemical Process Cell (CPC). Noble metals, such as Pd, Rh, and Ru, are historically known catalysts ... continued below

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Koopman, D. July 10, 2009.

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Significant progress has been made in the past two years in improving the understanding of acid consumption and catalytic hydrogen generation during the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) processing of waste sludges in the Sludge Receipt and Adjustment Tank (SRAT) and Slurry Mix Evaporator (SME). This report reviews issues listed in prior internal reviews, describes progress with respect to the recommendations made by the December 2006 external review panel, and presents a summary of the current understanding of catalytic hydrogen generation in the DWPF Chemical Process Cell (CPC). Noble metals, such as Pd, Rh, and Ru, are historically known catalysts for the conversion of formic acid into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Rh, Ru, and Pd are present in the DWPF SRAT feed as by-products of thermal neutron fission of {sup 235}U in the original waste. Rhodium appears to become most active for hydrogen as the nitrite ion concentration becomes low (within a factor of ten of the Rh concentration). Prior to hydrogen generation, Rh is definitely active for nitrite destruction to N{sub 2}O and potentially active for nitrite to NO formation. These reactions are all consistent with the presence of a nitro-Rh complex catalyst, although definite proof for the existence of this complex during Savannah River Site (SRS) waste processing does not exist. Ruthenium does not appear to become active for hydrogen generation until nitrite destruction is nearly complete (perhaps less nitrite than Ru in the system). Catalytic activity of Ru during nitrite destruction is significantly lower than that of either Rh or Pd. Ru appears to start activating as Rh is deactivating from its maximum catalytic activity for hydrogen generation. The slow activation of the Ru, as inferred from the slow rate of increase in hydrogen generation that occurs after initiation, may imply that some species (perhaps Ru itself) has some bound nitrite on it. Ru, rather than Rh, is primarily responsible for the hydrogen generation in the SME cycle when the hydrogen levels are high enough to be noteworthy. Mercury has a role in catalytic hydrogen generation. Two potentially distinct roles have been identified. The most dramatic effect of Hg on hydrogen generation occurs between runs with and without any Hg. When a small amount of Hg is present, it has a major inhibiting effect on Rh-catalyzed H{sub 2} generation. The Rh-Ru-Hg matrix study showed that increasing mercury from 0.5 to 2.5 wt% in the SRAT receipt total solids did not improve the inhibiting effect significantly. The next most readily identified role for Hg is the impact it has on accelerating NO production from nitrite ion. This reaction shifts the time that the ideal concentration of nitrite relative to Rh occurs, and consequently causes the most active nitro-Rh species to form sooner. The potential consequences of this shift in timing are expected to be a function of other factors such as amount of excess acid, Rh concentration, etc. Graphical data from the Rh-Ru-Hg study suggested that Hg might also be responsible for partially inhibiting Ru-catalysis initially, but that the inhibition was not sustained through the SRAT and SME cycles. Continued processing led to a subsequent increase in hydrogen generation that was often abrupt and that frequently more than doubled the hydrogen generation rate. This phenomenon may have been a function of the extent of Hg stripping versus the initial Ru concentration in these tests. Palladium is an active catalyst, and activates during (or prior to) nitrite destruction to promote N{sub 2}O formation followed by a very small amount of hydrogen. Pd then appears to deactivate. Data to date indicate that Pd should not be a species of primary concern relative to Rh and Ru for hydrogen generation. Pd was a very mild catalyst for hydrogen generation compared to Rh and Ru in the simulated waste system. Pd was comparable to Rh in enhancing N{sub 2}O production when present at equal concentration. Pd, however, is almost always present at less than a quarter of the Rh concentration in SRS sludge waste. Ag did not appear to ever become active for hydrogen generation. Data from two tests spiked with silver were comparable to the data from two tests with no noble metals. All significant technical gaps and inconsistencies with historical data in the prior two internal reviews of catalytic hydrogen generation work at SRS have been resolved. About 90% of the recommended work from the external technical review panel has been completed. Work planned or in progress could bring progress on the review panel recommendations up to about 95% by the end of calendar 2009. This primarily covers the sludge simulant matrix study on bulk compositional factors plus some follow-up work on X-ray absorption spectroscopy and improved acid equations.

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  • Report No.: SRNL-STI-2009-00214
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • DOI: 10.2172/962425 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 962425
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc935266

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  • July 10, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2016, 3:49 p.m.

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Koopman, D. DWPF CATALYTIC HYDROGEN GENERATION PROGRAM - REVIEW OF CURRENT STATUS, report, July 10, 2009; South Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc935266/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.