Waste Loading in Hanford: DOE vs. GSI-2000 Performance

A. Chekhmir & A. Gribetz
(March 2009)

The DOE Hanford site near Richland, Washington, stores more than 200 million liters of radioactive waste. This waste will be pre-treated at a Waste Treatment Plant, and subsequently separated into HLW (<10% of waste mass) and LAW (> 90% of waste mass).

Hanford HLW Waste Loadings: DOE vs. GSI-2000

DOE estimates that it will produce between 10,000 and 14,000 HLW canisters in Hanford over a 23- to 35-year period, depending upon the effectiveness of its initiatives to increase waste loading in the glass. The current DOE benchmark performance is approximately 26 wt% average waste loading which would result in production of 14,000 canisters. DOE considers a 31 wt% average waste loading (which would produce 12,700 canisters) to be a plausibly attainable increase in waste loading. To be conservative, we compare the performance of GSI-2000 to the 31 wt% waste loading. Hanford HLW is divided into 89 “batches” which are combined into 17 compositional groups (“clusters”) with similar chemical constituents. GSI chose a representative batch from 10 clusters* (representing 91% of Hanford HLW) and formulated glasses with high waste loadings. Table 3 below presents the waste loadings achieved by GSI at laboratory-scale. GSI-2000 has reached a weighted average waste loading of 46.3 wt% compared to DOE’s projected 31 wt% waste loading.

GSI-2000 Laboratory Test Results for Hanford HLW
Batch Total Mass Principal Components Waste Loading
Achieved by GSI
69 (from Cluster1) 2,349 Al, Na, Si 43 wt%
56 (from Cluster 2) 1,749 Bi, P 55 wt%
35 (from Cluster 3) 1,647 Al, Zr 40 wt%
46 (from Cluster 4) 1,395 Na, Al, U 45 wt%
53 (from Cluster 5) 1,384 Na, Al, Bi 50 wt%
87 (from Cluster 6) 947 Na ,Al 50 wt%
34 (from Cluster 7) 678 Na ,Al 50 wt%
48 (from Cluster 8) 506 Na, Al 40%
20 (from Cluster 9) 426 Zr 40 wt%
15 (from Cluster 10) 232 Na, Mn 45 wt%
Total 11,313 out of
12,385 tons of
HLW at Hanford (91 vol%)
Weighted Average
46.3 wt%

* Waste compositions taken from Tanks Focus Area HLW Melter Study Report (July 2001), Appendices C and E

Hanford LAW Waste Loadings: DOE vs. GSI-2000

Assuming all of the LAW at Hanford is vitrified DOE would produce approximately 47,000 canisters of LAW glass at a projected average 19 wt% sodium loading. Of note, the possibility exists that up to 50% of the LAW may be treated by Bulk Vitrification, a supplemental treatment, for which GSI-2000 is also applicable.

Applying GSI-2000 to two Hanford LAW simulants (one based on the high-sodium, high-sulfate 222-S Saltcake Composite simulant representative of the majority of the LAW to be treated by vitrification, and one based on the high-sodium Tank 241-S-109 simulant representative of the LAW to be treated possibly by Bulk Vitrification,* GSI achieved sodium loadings of 27.7 wt% and 30 wt%, respectively.

*Simulants taken from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - 14194, Cold Dissolved Saltcake Waste Simulant Development, Preparation, and Analysis (February 2003), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory - 15699, Tank 241-S-109 Saltcake Simulant Development and Testing (March 2006)