Tetronics, specialist in the treatment of hazardous waste and metal recovery, has been commissioned by Sellafield to run trials to see if plasma technology can stabilise simulated Intermediate Level Waste (ILW).
The trials will run on a range of simulated ILW, including containers, plant equipment and structural materials which mimic the behaviour of material that has been irradiated or contaminated while in operation on the Sellafield site.
Tetronics expects the trial to confirm the viability of plasma technology in the immobilisation of high metallic solid wastes.Chief executive Stephen Davies said: “We are pleased to support the nuclear industry with this trial as we believe the Tetronics plasma process can offer multiple benefits over current cementation techniques. Our analysis comparing the lifetime cost savings of using plasma vitrification instead of cementation for unprocessed wet ILW inventory amounts to significant savings for the UK tax payer alone.”
Currently, Sellafield treats ILW by putting it into stainless steel drums, which are filled with cementitious grouts. These are then placed into a special above-ground storage facility on the site. The Tectronics method should deliver volume reduction of radioactive waste, making it easier to store before it is disposed of.
Sellafield head of technology Mike James commented: “Tetronics has continued to support the qualification of alternative techniques and we therefore see its thermal DC plasma technology as potentially capable of supporting the complexities of integrated decommissioning programmes.”